The Laser (“light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation”) was “invented”[i]Invented, rather than discovered because there was no evidence of this physical property of light existing in the universe until recently when this natural phenomenon was “discovered”. at Hughes Research Laboratories in the early 1960s, and by the mid-1960s companies like Coherent Radiation were already gaining acceptance in the market place with products using lasers for all sorts of commercial applications. My first encounter came when Coherent Radiation approached Siemens in the 1980s for help with one of its new products. I don’t recall if it was something like a miniaturized power supply for a light source or more likely some sort of aiming device – I will need to defer to one of my colleagues[ii]… perhaps Bob Herendeen or Dale Henderson, having better memories than I. It was only then that I began to realize the potential that was emerging.
What has transpired in the decades since is nothing short of a technology revolution. Lasers are used, seemingly without limits, in everything from children’s toys to spacecraft – including most notably in medicine. One day I noticed a diode laser scalpal on the shelf of my dentist’s office and inquired about it. The dentist confided that he did not understand completely technology but he really appreciated the benefits of the device. I mentioned that I had a passing acquaintance with similar devices and prepared this summary for him. He was elated to be able to share this little summary with patients and colleagues.
Along with a few million others, I often used the familiar red[iii]Green ones came several years later and eventually blue ones, as the technology evolved from GaAsP to AlGaAs, to AlNGaP, and eventually GaN for blue. laser pointing devices, and of course, many cameras use laser range finders because they are not dependent on ambient light. But it wasn’t until recently that I actually took a close look “under the hood”. I bought a so-called DIY laser engraving system recently and the pages that follow (menu on the right) explore some of its uses.
Written: March 2022
Published: May 2022
Revised: October 2022
Reader feedback always appreciated
|↑i||Invented, rather than discovered because there was no evidence of this physical property of light existing in the universe until recently when this natural phenomenon was “discovered”.|
|↑ii||… perhaps Bob Herendeen or Dale Henderson|
|↑iii||Green ones came several years later and eventually blue ones, as the technology evolved from GaAsP to AlGaAs, to AlNGaP, and eventually GaN for blue.|