Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. A means of creating coherent light by either driving an atomic or molecular transition in an optical cavity or firing a beam of electrons through an undulator.

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117
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2answers
9k views

Why does a mirror split my laser beam?

Last night my daughter was asking why a mirror "always does that" (referring to reflecting a spot of light). To help her figure it out, I grabbed my green laser pointer so she could see the light ...
82
votes
2answers
4k views

Why is a laserpointer able to “erase” a glow-in-the-dark sticker?

a while ago I tried to charge a glow-in-the-dark sticker using a simple red laser pointer. It was a large sticker, of the type used to mark emergency exits and fire extinguishers here in Germany. I ...
66
votes
5answers
6k views

How do laser “tape measures” work?

There is a device available for about $\$40$, which fits in the palm of the hand, runs on two AA batteries, and can measure distances up to $50\,{\rm ft}$ to an accuracy of $\sim \frac{1}{8}''$ ($\sim ...
56
votes
3answers
6k views

How to measure the wavelength of a laser pointer?

I'm working on something and I need to know the wavelength of the laser pointer that I'm using. Can you suggest me a way, using some optics formulae, or anything else to calculate the wavelength?
41
votes
6answers
8k views

Why do lasers cut? Is this a case of light acting as matter?

All I found in Google was very broad. From a physics models perspective, why can photons emitted from a laser cut? Does this cut mean that the photons are acting like matter?
27
votes
2answers
989 views

Why does laser light not affect glowing materials?

I have this childrens rubber ball which glows in the dark after it's exposed to light. I "charge" it with a flash light then play with my dogs at night. I thought to try a very intense green laser, ...
26
votes
4answers
2k views

Do free-electron lasers actually lase?

Free-electron lasers are devices which use the motion of highly energetic electron beams to produce bright, coherent radiation in the x-ray regime. More specifically, they start with a high-energy ...
24
votes
6answers
2k views

Quantum random numbers from a laser — simplest setup?

I'm a software / maths guy who would like to build a physical setup for generating quantum random numbers. I have no physics background, so bear with me. Background The project is for a public ...
19
votes
4answers
7k views

Can lasers lift objects?

I have been fascinated by a very intriguing question - Can lasers push objects up? I have done the below math to find out Lets say we have a $1000~\text{mW}$ laser and we would like to lift an ...
19
votes
4answers
2k views

Is it possible to observe interference from 2 independent optical lasers?

It seems that if the coherence length of a laser is big enough, it is possible to observe a (moving) interference picture by combining them. Is it true? How fast should photo-detectors be for ...
18
votes
1answer
1k views

Photobombing without app used by Harley Davidson

Here we see a photobombing trick, used by Harley Davidson. They achieve to incrust a logo on a photo you take. The logo is invisible with naked eyes and only revealed on the photo you take. How does ...
17
votes
2answers
6k views

Is it really possible to break the speed of light by flicking your wrist with a laser pointer?

Minutephysics has a popular YouTube video called "How to break the speed of light". In the video it states that if you flick your wrist while pointing a laser that reaches the moon, that the spot of ...
17
votes
4answers
3k views

What ways are there to measure the local polarization of a laser beam?

Measuring the polarization of a laser beam is a simple enough task if the polarization is the same everywhere. You can even buy commercial polarimeters. How do you go about it if the light beam has ...
17
votes
2answers
3k views

What is an intuitive explanation of Gouy phase?

In laser resonators, higher order modes (i.e. TEM01, etc) accumulate phase faster than the fundamental TEM00 mode. This extra phase is called Gouy phase. What is an intuitive explanation of this ...
16
votes
2answers
1k views

Why doesn't the no-cloning theorem make lasers impossible?

As I understand lasers, you start off with a few photons that are in an identical state, and other photons that are created later tend to have the same quantum numbers due to Einstein-Bose statistics. ...
16
votes
4answers
7k views

Tried to do the double slit experiment, failed. Why?

I tried, and failed, to do the double-slit experiment. I thought I had a good experiment setup, but obviously I was wrong. Can anyone offer some insight in what I might have done wrong? Most of ...
15
votes
3answers
2k views

How is squeezed light produced?

Ordinary laser light has equal uncertainty in phase and amplitude. When an otherwise perfect laser beam is incident onto a photodetector, the uncertainty in photon number will produce shot noise with ...
15
votes
1answer
416 views

Does my green laser pointer emit three distinct frequencies, or is my measurement flawed?

I was playing around with a cheap diffraction grating and my set of laser pointers, and I noticed that while the red and the blue pointers produce a single point in the spectrum, my green laser ...
14
votes
3answers
9k views

Physics of Focusing a Laser

The temperature that a solar death ray can produce is limited due to the solid angle of the sun itself. Entropic arguments dictate that you can't focus the sun's light to create temperatures higher ...
14
votes
2answers
2k views

Amateur moon laser ranging

Questions first, then my rough estimations: 1) Is it possible to perform moon laser ranging with amateur motorized 114mm telescope? My calculations suggest that for 1mJ laser it should receive ~2 ...
14
votes
1answer
890 views

Is the time reversed laser really a laser?

I'm looking at the time reversed laser and I was having trouble understanding why we call this device a laser. To me this device is more like the absorbers found in FDTD codes, something like a CPML. ...
13
votes
1answer
1k views

Can a burning laser be directed through fiber optics?

Can a laser powerful enough to cut(100w for example) be redirected using fiber optics ? What issues need to be considered? To be clear it should retain the ability to cut after exiting the fiber.
13
votes
1answer
16k views

Will high power laser penetrate mirror?

Many nations are developing hi-energy laser weapon. My question is, what if target is coated with mirror like coating? Can laser (since laser is still light) penetrate mirror? If it can then how is it ...
12
votes
4answers
957 views

When lasers are used to cool atoms or ions, etc where does the heat go?

According to the first law of thermodynamics, sourced from wikipedia "In any process in an isolated system, the total energy remains the same." So when lasers are used for cooling in traps, similar ...
12
votes
3answers
7k views

Why do green lasers appear brighter and stronger than red and blue lasers?

This is mostly for my own personal illumination, and isn't directly related to any school or work projects. I just picked up a trio of laser pointers (red, green, and blue), and I notice that when I ...
11
votes
7answers
8k views

Why does a laser beam diverge?

I was wondering why a laser beam diverges. If all the photons are in the same direction, I would imagine that it would stay that way over a long distance. I am aware that a perfectly collimated beam ...
11
votes
4answers
540 views

Does the speed of medium affect the path of light?

Let's say I shine a laser from a stationary medium into a moving medium (suppose the water is moving very quickly) perpendicular to the interface and back to a stationary medium like this: (Note: ...
10
votes
4answers
2k views

How to build a laser in the garage?

So I wonder if it is any how possible to build laser at home. A powerful one to melt brick.
10
votes
3answers
6k views

Is it possible to make laser beams visible midair without smoke?

My question is: Is it possible to make laser beams viable midair without smoke? I thought it would be a great idea to have a (second) smartphone or pc screen without having a solid screen. The reason ...
10
votes
1answer
1k views

Why do we see laser beams?

A laser produces a coherent beam of photons with particular $\mathbf{k}$ and $\mathbf{\omega}$. So, if there is no particular $\mathbf{k}_0$ directed toward our eyes, why do we see laser beams? I ...
9
votes
8answers
10k views

Why is a 1mW laser dangerous?

In our Physics lab we have a 1 milliwatt (0.001W) helium neon laser. Despite the low power, we were cautioned not to even look at reflections of the beam as it could cause permanent eye damage - why ...
9
votes
4answers
4k views

Can radio waves be formed into a pencil beam?

Laser beams are said to have high "spatial coherence". This means that the beam is highly concentrated even at long distances (low spread). Can this be achieved with radio waves (much longer waves) ...
9
votes
1answer
447 views

Graphene as optical and UV mirrors

One usually hears about graphene as a good thermal conductor, and good light absorber due to its tunable bandgap properties. But i haven't heard about its aplicability as an optical mirror. In fact, ...
9
votes
0answers
95 views

Stimulated Emission in QED

The explanations of stimulated emission which I have found all describe the phenomenon in terms of non-relativistic quantum mechanics. How might you describe it in a field theory such as QED? In ...
9
votes
0answers
135 views

mode-locking a laser on prime-powers' frequencies

Being rather a theoretician than an experimental physicist, I have a question to the community: Is it experimentally possible to mode-lock a laser (fixed phase relationships between the modes of the ...
8
votes
4answers
42k views

What makes some laser beams visible and other laser beams invisible?

What makes the beam of some lasers: visible? such as the ones used in clubs or such as the laser pointers sold at amazon which if pointed to the sky look like a solid visible beam of light ...
8
votes
3answers
1k views

Why use lasers for intense, localized heat instead of some other light source?

Lasers are used in various industrial processes that need intense, localised, heat (3d printers and laser cutters come to mind). My question is: why use lasers? There are many other (cheaper, ...
8
votes
2answers
2k views

What exactly is the difference between a sychrotron light source and a free electron laser?

Cyclotron radiation is radiation emitted by a charged particle being bent by a magnetic field. The only difference between cyclotron and synchrotron radiation is that the latter occurs at relativistic ...
8
votes
2answers
744 views

How does infrared light 'erase' phosphorescence on zinc sulfide?

I found some sheets of zinc sulfide in my basement that phosphoresce green for up to 24 hours or so after exposure to bright light in the violet range or shorter. One of the first things I tried was ...
8
votes
3answers
402 views

Can you thermally pump a laser? (and problems with population inversion)

Recently a question was asked during a lecture about the possibility of thermally pumping a laser. The lecturer claimed that this is pretty impractical as typical transitions in the visible light ...
7
votes
2answers
693 views

How do I find the right lens for my laser?

I purchased this line laser recently and I'm running into a bit of an issue. The laser shoots out at a 120 degree angle which is perfect. However, once the laser spreads to about 4.25 inches, I need ...
7
votes
3answers
900 views

What causes the specific pattern of sparkly light from a laser pointer

I have a fairly cheap green laser pointer that produces a fairly big spot of light (actually two spots most of the time!). I'd guess the size of the spot is about 1/100th of the distance from the end ...
7
votes
1answer
694 views

Huygens wave theory not applicable to lasers or parallel beams of light?

According to Huygens wave theory, every point on a wavefront acts as a secondary source of waves. Using this principle we can never have pretty narrow parallel beams of light right? Like lasers? ...
7
votes
1answer
198 views

does the beam of a laser have 'throw'?

I was thinking about Einstein's train and platform experiment and was wondering if a beam of light experiences throw? Let me explain, if I take a water hose and point it straight out and then swing ...
7
votes
1answer
1k views

Wavefront RMS errors, mirror surface roughness and Gaussian beam scattering

What I'm interested is in the scattered power of Gaussian beams reflected from mirrors with a given surface RMS. Usually the surface RMS $\sigma_{s}$ of a mirror translates in an error for the ...
7
votes
1answer
460 views

Free Electron Lasers (FEL) and limits on laser wavelength

Free Electron Lasers are based on Synchroton coherent radiation when a collimated electron beam suffers trajectory curvature due to a strong bouncing magnetic field inside an undulator. Free Electron ...
7
votes
2answers
472 views

Fairly Broad Spectrum Light Source Options

I tried this sight before to find filtering options and got fantastic results, so let's try again! I am setting up an experiment that requires light of two different frequencies (445nm and 350nm). ...
7
votes
1answer
120 views

How legit is this paper claiming to have observed Hawking radiation? [closed]

I recently stumbled upon this paper. In it, the author claims to have found a signature for Hawking radiation in a condensed matter system. I know that experimentalists have been trying to find ...
7
votes
1answer
1k views

Good introductory papers and books on laser physics and pulsed lasers

I am looking for good introductory papers and/or books on the principles of lasers. In particular, I am interested in pulsed laser technology. I understand that Gould, R. Gordon (1959). "The ...
7
votes
0answers
112 views

Photon pumping in Laser

Let's consider a ring laser where the laser must pass through the gain material before it is sent toward a partially reflective surface $\ R=1-T $. The other mirrors are perfect reflectors with $\ ...