Electrons are pushed into a higher orbit (this is called pumping).

(common way is to bombard the atoms with light ) In most cases, the electron is in an unstable state, and it will quickly move to a lower state. We need it in a meta-stable state for our purposes. Meta-stable means that the electron will hang around for a little while before going back to the ground state. Laser material has to have a meta-stable state corresponding to a useful energy. In laser material, very soon after we 'pump' the electron to a higher state, it slides down to a slightly lower meta-stable state. Now we have a lot of electrons hanging around with the right amount of energy, waiting to be stimulated into giving that energy up in the form of a photon.

Laser Type Argon fluoride (UV) Krypton fluoride (UV) Wavelength (nm) 193 248 Xenon chloride (UV) Nitrogen (UV) Argon (blue) Argon (green) Helium neon (green) Helium neon (red) Rhodamine 6G dye (tunable) Ruby (CrAlO3) (red) 308 337 488 514 543 633 570-650 694 Nd:Yag (NIR) Carbon dioxide (FIR) 1064 10600 .

There is an energy level that can absorb photons with a wavelength of 980nm. and potentially very high power beam out at 1550nm. . and this then decays to a meta-stable state equivalent to 1550nm.• The reason we use Erbium is because the Erbium atoms have very useful energy levels. • This means that we can use a cheap diode laser 'pump source' at 980nm and we get a very high quality.

Almost all materials change their optical properties as they heat up. So normal lasers are very sensitive to being knocked or banged. In practise. and that it can be focused on a very small dot. Other lasers may only be able to convert a small percentage of the power put into them. or having a big lense focus the sun onto you. but when it is all focused on a single point it seems like a lot! It's the difference between being gently warmed by the sun. creating a powerful beam. The alternative is to bounce it between mirrors. so that can affect the beam quality. for example. The fibres can be quite long. and also needs to be finely adjusted. but a fibre laser converts around 70-80% of the power put in by the pump source.• • • • • • • Why are Fibre Lasers useful? The first reason a fibre laser is useful is because it is stable. but these need to be very finely aligned. The third reason is because they can be made to go up to very high powers. That is more than enough to cut through an inch of steel! The fourth reason is that they are very efficient and easy to cool. Coupling a laser beam into the tiny core of a fibre is very hard. but in many uses for lasers this quality is required. This is better for power consumption. This isn't very much power compared to a kettle or a toaster. and have been made with over 1. and once the optics go out of alignment it takes a specialist to sort them out. the more effective the laser will be for cutting.000 Watts of power (1kW). and the heat is distributed over the length of the fibre. . which protects the fibre from getting so hot that it breaks. The second reason a fibre laser is useful is because the beam quality is so high. but it means less power is being converted to heat. The smaller the dot. this means that the beam is very straight. so the delivery of the beam doesn't require any complicated or sensitive optics. we usually need an optical fibre to move it around safely. When we want to deliver a laser beam. In contrast. The beam is generated and confined inside the small core of the fibre. the fibre laser generates the beam inside the fibre. Fibre lasers are continually getting more powerful. This makes it very stable and easy to use. Lasers start to get to the point where they can harm your skin at around 1 Watt of power.

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