Laser applications extend as far as we can imagine. Starting from industrial applications like cutting, welding, marking to the medical industry for scanning, precision tool manufacturing to luxury industry for finishing, imprinting and ultimately to any industry we can think of.
Do you know, what is laser technology & how it is generated? Keep reading to know about the technology that is transforming the industries.
Have you ever wondered how things around us, things we use daily are made? Well, when we narrow down to understand it’s made, we will understand that most of them are touched by laser system operations. Laser applications extend as far as we can imagine. Starting from industrial applications like cutting, welding, marking to the medical industry for scanning, precision tool manufacturing to luxury industry for finishing, imprinting and ultimately to any industry we can think of. So, what is laser technology?
Fundamental of Laser Principle:
By laser definition, it states “A laser is a device that emits light through a process of optical amplification based on the stimulated emission of electromagnetic radiation.” Although the term LASER looks a wholesome expression, it is actually an acronym for “light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation”. As we explained laser acronym and when we look around today, the laser is spread in a wide spectrum of applications but its inception is not far past. In 1960 Theodore H. Maiman when he was at Hughes Research Laboratories, built the first laser.
“Although the term LASER looks a wholesome expression, it is actually an acronym for “light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation”
A typical laser consists of 5 major components, namely: Gain Medium, Laser pumping energy, High reflector, the Output coupler, and Laser beam. A gain medium is a material with a tendency to amplify light with stimulated emission. A light with a specific wavelength is amplified (increases power) when passes through a gain medium.
In laser working the gain medium is supplied with energy to amplify light through the process known as pumping. The energy supplied is in a form of electric current or light at a variable wavelength. Another laser or flash lamp provides the pump light.
Since the inception of laser, it has been widely popularized in multiple as result of its ability to concentrate power with precision, customizing laser sources to achieve broad laser applications and faster operational speed.
A typical laser uses feedback from a pair of mirrors mounted on both the sides of the gain medium; often the system is called an optical cavity. Every time the light bounces between this two medium pass through gain medium and amplified each time throughout the process. One of the two mirrors which act as an output coupler is translucent allowing some of the light to escape through the mirror. The design cavity determines the shape of mirrors (flat or curved). The nature of the light either divergent or narrow beam is dependent upon the shape of the mirrors. This amplification device is rather known as Laser Oscillator.
Since the inception of laser, it has been widely popularized in multiple as result of its ability to concentrate power with precision, customizing laser sources to achieve broad laser applications and faster operational speed. There are multiple types of laser which have a wide range of application. Some of the commonly used types of lasers in the industry are:
Types of Lasers and its Applications:
1. Gas Lasers
When an electric current is discharged through a gas to produce coherent light it forms a gas laser. Based on the principle of converting electric energy to laser light output, gas lasers were the first continuous-light laser. The history of the first gas laser goes back to 1960 when Iranian-American physicist Ali Javan and American physicist William R. Bennet invented Helium-Neon Laser. (He-Ne). Mostly, He-Ne lasers because of the low cost and highly coherent are used optical research and educational laboratories. While with a capability to emit hundreds of watts in single spatial mode, carbon dioxide (CO2) lasers are used in industries for cutting and welding.
The history of the first gas laser goes back to 1960 when Iranian-American physicist Ali Javan and American physicist William R. Bennet invented Helium-Neon Laser.
2. Chemical Lasers
A large amount of energy quickly released by chemical reactions constructs chemical lasers. With its high power energy release tendency it serves a special application in the military. When the chemical lasers are fed by streams of gases, it has proven industrial applications.
3. Excimer Lasers
Excimers are the molecules which can exist with one atom in an excited electronic state. This laser technology uses special gas laser propelled by electric discharge, where, lasing medium is an excimer or exciplex in modern-day designs. These lasers operate at a wavelength that of ultraviolet and have a major application in photolithography and LASIK (laser in-situ keratomileusis) eye surgery.
4. Solid State Lasers
In a solid state, laser gain medium is solid unlike liquid in dye lasers and gas in gas lasers. It uses glass rod or crystalline rod which is ‘”Doped” with ions that provides energy states. Solid state lasers are mainly used for defense weapons developments.
5. Fiber Lasers
The total internal reflection in solid-state lasers or laser amplifiers is guided in a single mode optical fiber is called Fiber Laser. As a result of light traveling through long gain regions, it provides strong cooling conditions. Due to the high surface area to volume ratio, it provides efficient cooling. Fiber Lasers have major application in industry for cutting, marking, welding, hardening, and cladding.
Sahajanad Laser Technology limited, India introduced world’s first fiber laser cutting and marking systems. SLTL Group introduced this technology to the industry in order to fulfil high-quality demands.
6. Photonic crystal Lasers
The lasers based on nanostructures that provide the mode confinement and the density of optical state (DOS) structure required for the feedback to take place.
7. Dye Lasers
Another type of lasers is dye lasers which have organic dye as the gain medium. These lasers are highly tuneable (wavelength can be altered). Although these lasers are solid-state lasers scientists have also demonstrated emission in dispersive oscillator tenability incorporating solid-state dye gain media. These lasers are used for astronomy (the laser-guided study of stars), spectroscopy, atomic vapor isotope separation and many more.
8. Free Electron Lasers
Free Electrons, as the name suggests are not bound to atomic or molecular states, they use rather a relativistic electron beam as the lasing medium. These lasers cover a wide range of wavelength from as small as microwaves to infrared to soft X-rays. Due to its independent nature, they have the broadest range of wavelength possible.
Types of Laser Operations:
There are many types of lasers, as mentioned above but they do operate in mostly two different forms: Continuous-wave operation and pulsed operation.
Continuous wave operation:
As the name suggests, when the beam imparts power for a constant over a time, it is called continuous wave operation. To fulfill many industrial applications some lasers are operated in a continuous wave. Many lasers operate at different longitudinal modes and beat at gradual different frequencies to produce amplitude variations on time scales lower than the round trip, often less than nanoseconds. Such lasers are still considered as continuous wave operation as they tend to provide constant power output over a long period of time.
Pulse laser function in a different manner than continuous wave operations. These lasers provide an optical power in pulses, repeated over a time period. These lasers are customized for time frame power output pulses depending upon its applications. This encompasses a very wide range of applications.
The purpose of the article was to develop a basic understanding all about laser technology. Next up, we will see its applications in different industries and how laser technology impacts our daily life.
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