Short history of laser development

Jun 30th, 2015
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The laser is often grouped with the transistor and the computer as landmark inventions of the mid-20th century. All three technologies had deep conceptual roots, and grew and flowered rapidly in the years after the end of World War II. They benefitted from heavy government and corporate investment in physical research, a rapid growth in the numbers of physicists and engineers, and a legacy of ideas and equipment from the war years. It was an era of widespread technological progress and optimism, tempered by fears that Cold War tensions could lead to nuclear war.

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Optical Engineering 499, 091002 September 2010Short history of laser developmentJeff Hecht525 Auburn StreetAuburndale, Massachusetts 02466E-mail: jeff@jeffhecht.comAbstract. Half a century has passed since Theodore Maimans smallruby rod crossed the threshold of laser emission. The breakthrough demonstration earned headlines, but in the early years the laser was calleda solution looking for a problem, and there was a germ of truth in thejoke. Years of development since then have vastly improved laser performance, and tremendously increased their variety, earning lasers important roles in scientific research, consumer products, telecommunications, engineering, medicine, materials working, and a host of otherapplications. This article reviews the highlights of those developmentsand puts them into context, showing how laser technology has evolvedto meet application requirements. 2010 Society of Photo-Optical InstrumentationEngineers. DOI: 10.1117/1.3483597Subject terms: lasers; history; laser applications.Paper 100010SSR received Jan. 5, 2010; revised manuscript received Jun. 11,2010; accepted for publication Jun. 19, 2010; published online Sep. 1, 2010.1IntroductionThe laser is often grouped with the transistor and the computer as landmark inventions of the mid-20th century. Allthree technologies had deep conceptual roots, and grew andflowered rapidly in the years after the end of World War II.They benefitted from heavy

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