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Laser Technology

Laser Technology



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Published by: PRASAD326 on Feb 24, 2009
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chapter three
Laser technology 
3.1 Development of laser technology 
The history of laser technology is over 40 years old; lasers have been knownfor over 30 years and used in practical applications for more than 25 years.The scientific basis of laser technology lies in the realm of atomic physics,more strictly speaking, foundations were laid by the Danish physicist NielsBohr (1913 - theory of the structure of the hydrogen atom) and the GermanAlbert Einstein (1916 - introduction of the concept of stimulated emission)[1, 2].In 1950, A. Kastler from France proposed optical pumping (creation of changes in the distribution of filling of different atomic energy levels as aresult of excitation by light radiation) which earned him the Nobel Prizein physics in 1966 [2].In the years 1953 to 1954, American scientists from Columbia Univer-sity, Ch. H. Townes and J. Weber, and Soviet researchers N. G. Basov andA. M. Prokhorov, working independently at the Lebedev Institute of Physics,proposed the application of stimulated emission to amplify microwaves. Forthis achievement, Townes, Basov and Prokhorov received the Nobel Prize inphysics in 1964 [1-10].In 1954, Townes, together with co-workers J. Gorgon and H. Zeiger,applied the concept in practice, utilizing ammonia as the active mediumand building the world’s first wave amplifier in the microwave range (emit-ting radiation of wavelength 12.7 mm) which they called
. This term isderived from the acronym of 
 Microwave Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation
[1].In 1958, Ch. H. Townes and A. L. Schavlov predicted the possibility of building a maser for light radiation but the first attempt at its construc-tion in 1959 was unsuccessful [5]. In 1981, A. L. Schavlov received theNobel Prize in physics for his overall contribution to the development of lasers [2].It was only in May of 1960 that a young American physicist, T. H. Maiman,working in the laboratory of Hughes Research Aircraft Co., built the world’sfirst maser, operating in the range of light radiation, initially called
. The name was changed later to
Light Amplification by StimulatedEmission of Radiation
). This was a pulse ruby laser, generating visible radiationof red color (of wavelength
= 0.694
m) [1-10].
© 1999 by CRC Press LLC
The construction of a laser based on the ruby crystal initiated the so-called solid crystal laser series. In 1961 F. Snitzer constructed the first laseron neodymium glass and three years later, a young physicist,I.E. Guesic, together with his co-workers at the Korad Department Labo-ratory in the US, implemented the first laser based on an Nd-YAG crystal,emitting short-wave infrared radiation (
= 2.0641
m) [8].The first gas laser operating continuously, in which a mixture of heliumand neon replaced ruby as the active medium, was built in the Bell Tele-phone Laboratories in the United States in 1961 by A. Javan, W.R. Bennet Jr.and D.R. Herriote, according to a suggestion published two years earlier by A. Javan. This is today the most popular type of laser [5, 8].In 1962, F.J. McClung and R.W. Hellwarth from Hughes Aircraft Labo-ratory (US) implemented the operation of the first laser with an activebandwidth modulation which later made possible the obtaining of highpower and very short duration laser pulses, so-called
 gigantic pulses
[5].In 1964, the American physicist C.K.N. Patel, working at the Bell Tele-phone Laboratories built the world’s first gas laser based on carbon diox-ide, emitting continuous infrared radiation of wavelength
= 10.59
m,which later found greatest application in industry [5].The first excimer laser of the ultra-violet range (xenon, with a wave-length
= 0.183
m) was made in 1972 (H.A. Köhler et al.); nine yearsearlier, in 1963, the first nitrogen-based gas laser emitting UV radiation wasbuilt by H.G. Hard [5].From the moment of invention of the first laser, a tumultuous develop-ment of laser technology has taken place, recognized, not without reason,as one of the foremost achievements of our times in the field of science andtechnology. As a result, today there are several hundred different designsof lasers, i.e., quantum optical generators of almost coherent electromagneticradiation for a spectrum range from UV to far IR [11].Lasers have found application in many domains of everyday life andtechnology, where they have proven themselves to be of priceless service.They are successfully utilized in medicine, surveying and cartography, inrocket and space technology, in military and civilian applications. To thisday, unfortunately, what triggers their further development are military requirements. In such applications as the so-called star-wars, lasers are tobe the basic weapon destroying the enemy’s weaponry (satellites, cosmicvehicles and rocket heads). Laser designs of very high pulse power orenergy are known [11].Somewhat overshadowed by these applications, although with equalintensity, we observe the development of design and application of lasersfor industrial purposes, so-called
technological lasers
. These are mainly lasers operating with carbon dioxide as the active medium [11].Technological lasers allow continuous operation or by repeated or singlepulses of extremely short duration, i.e., within 10
to 10
s. They enable highprecision delivery to selected sites of treated materials of great power densi-ties (up to 10
), power of the order of terawatts, energy of hundreds of kilojoules and heating rates up to 10
K/s [6].
© 1999 by CRC Press LLC
It is estimated that in 1985, the industries of different countries of theworld employed over 2000 technological lasers, of which approximately one third found application in the metal industry [11].
3.2 Physical fundamentals of lasers
3.2.1 Spontaneous and stimulated emission
All atom systems which go to make up the bodies surrounding us, aswell as ourselves, exist in certain quantum states, characterized by givenvalues of energy, in other words, by given energy levels. Each change of this state can only take place in the form of a non-continuous jump
of an electron from the basic state to the excited state or reverse,which is accompanied by absorption or emission of a strictly defined por-tion of energy. The smallest such portion by which a system may changeits energy is called
(from the Latin
, meaning: how much).Lasers utilize electron transitions between energy levels of particles - at-oms, ions or particles which form solids, liquids and gases. Transitions of electrons are accompanied by changes of the energy level of the atomsystem.
Fig. 3.1
Diagrams showing emission and absorption of energy: a) in an atom; b) in aset of atoms. (Fig. a – from
Oczoœ, K.
[2]. With permission.)
The simplest quantum system is the two-level one, i.e., such a microsystemin which processes of emission and absorption of radiation take place be-tween two discrete energy levels: basic (level
with energy 
) and excited(level
with energy 
) (Fig. 3.1). For simplification it can be assumed thatenergy levels are infinitely narrow, although in real systems they have adefined width.The transition of such an isolated quantum system from one energy level to another may be of a
nature, in which case the energy 
© 1999 by CRC Press LLC

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