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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Why isn't V. A. Fabricant given the credit for the discovery of the laser?

In another question here I asked for help in finding old Russian papers in physics and as an example I gave the founding papers on the laser by Basov and Prokhorov (from 1945 and 1954). In an answer ...
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Laser beam shaping

Hi I like to build a laser pointer that reflects different shapes for a project I am working on. I know this can be done with Diffractive Optical Elements. Are there other options? DOEs are expensive. ...
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Why is the photon emitted in the same direction as incoming radiation in Laser?

When an atom “lases” it always gives up its energy in the same direction and phase as the incoming light. Why does this happen? How can this be explained? How does the photon generated because of ...
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Will a prism widen a monochromatic beam?

The representation of the experiment which demonstrates that white light consists of many colors, invariably shows that the beam of white light is broadened inside the prism and is some what more ...
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laser pointer class III and potential eye damage

We just bought a green laser pointer on Ebay and had a discussion about the safety. The laser is low end chinese one (5 USD, free shipping :-) ) and the seller says this: Green Laser Pointer Point ...
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Does there exist a laser that is tunable over the whole visible spectrum?

Does there exist a laser that is tunable over the whole visible spectrum? If so does there exist one that is solid state? This is to settle a score with my dumb workmates.
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Why are lasers inefficient?

Why are lasers inefficient? Is it because of the heat lost during lasing? Why couldn't there be thermocouples or turbines in parts of the cooling circuits to extract something out of that heat?
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Line width of green DPSS laser

Could someone suggest what is the line width/mode stability/coherence length of generic cheapo green (532nm) DPSS laser? I've found lots of nice info here: ...
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How do “holographic plates” work?

I asked a question about laser stage lighting over at Audio Video Production, and received an excellent answer that explained that laser clusters are generated from a single beam via something called ...
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Laser cutting/drilling of copper

In industry, it's common to cut steel using 50-200 W $\mathrm{CO}_2$ laser. Meanwhile, for making holes in PCB (35 $\mu$m of Cu), DPSS 355 nm laser is usually used and secondary $\mathrm{CO}_2$ to ...
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Did anyone claim that quantum theory meant lasers would never work

I've been reading 'How the Hippies saved Physics', which describes a design for a superluminal communication device, of which the crucial part was a laser which duplicated an incoming photon many ...
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900 views

Laser, wire, and a circle of light

So, when I point a laser at a piece of wire (pointed at a specific angle), a circle of light appears on a wall behind it (see image below). I am trying to see why this happens and if there are any ...
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148 views

What causes light to travel through a curved fountain of water?

Today I observed a tilted fountain spurting water upward (the water fell smoothly; no detectable turbulence). A colored light was shown upward into the water as it left its source. This light traveled ...
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Stimulated Emission in Free-Electron Lasers

I've been reading about free-electron lasers these days. The basic principle is clear: In the undulator electrons spontaneousely emit synchrotron radiation. A self-attunement takes place, causing the ...
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147 views

Options to correct rectangular laser beam profile?

We recently switched to a 405 nm laser diode which has a terrible beam profile -- it is a well-defined rectangle with an aspect ratio of about 10:1. The image below shows the collimated beam which ...
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154 views

Optical laser pumping and reflectors

Let's say we are building Nd:YAG laser. It is optically pumped by some linear xenon flash lamps, it absorbs light around 750nm and 800nm, and emitted light is at 1064nm. The question is why doesn't ...
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69 views

what general physical arguments discredit induced emission of nuclei?

trying to read a bit about "quantum nucleonics", i've encountered this rebuttal from people at Livermore that induced radiation stimulation of Hafnium nuclei is possible. Something that catches my eye ...
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What reflective media do laser shows use?

I am having a hard time in finding out what exact light media laser shows use. I am trying to build a laser show myself. I know that the laser light is reflected off these particles in such a way that ...
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Is there any physical quantity that does not have uncertainty?

I saw this video and I got a thought: Is there any physical quantity that does not have uncertainty? Basic models are: for lenght for time end energy (so for mass too) and I realized that ...
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How do laser rangefinders work when the object surface is not perpendicular to the laser beam?

I find the functioning of a laser rangefinder confusing. The explanation usually goes like this: "you shine a laser beam onto the object, the laser beam gets reflected and gets back to the device and ...
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598 views

Why do lasers require mirror at the ends?

Laser uses mirrors to reflect photons in order to stimulate atoms to emit photons, but why this is so?. I mean, why does a photon stimulate atoms to produce more photons? If a photon made an atom to ...
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Free Optics Simulation Programs

I'm having an extremely difficult time finding an optics program that is easy to use and offers accurate physics simulations. I'm not asking for much, I just want to be able to simulate a laser going ...
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338 views

How can laser communication be faster than microwave?

My textbook states that "Laser communication is much faster than microwave communication." But, how can that be? Both are electromagnetic waves with different frequencies but, how can the speed be ...
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Lasing in a 2-Level system?

What exactly is the difference between 2-Level, 3-Level and 4-Level systems? Why can we not achieve stimulated emission in a two-level system using optical pumping?
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Water Jet Cutter and Laser

I watched a video of "Glass cutting" which uses a Water Jet Cutter. It was said that Cutting glass simply by machines would eventually crack it... So, They're using grains of sand (by placing a sand ...
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What is the meaning of “CW” in LASER?

I am reading a user's manual, and the word appears here. At first, I think "CW" means "center wave". But later, I find that the meaning of "CW" is "continuous wave". It makes me confused. ...
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Do laser beams interfere noticeably with each other?

I want to arrange some red lasers along a 90 degree arc of a circle, aimed towards the center of the circle. When their beams hit the opposite side of the circle, will I notice any interference ...
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What does $g^{(2)}$ signify in quantum optics? And how to calculate it?

I have been studying research papers on Quantum Optics and non-linear optics. I frequently come across the $g^{(2)}$ value. What does it signify? What is its importance? How to calculate it? And ...
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What is a good reference for the quantum mechanical description of lasers?

I am currently taking a graduate level class on lasers. The primary focus of the class is on the design and engineering aspects of lasers, e.g. resonator design. However the first portion of the class ...
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Why does shining a laser into an iPhone camera create these shapes?

When I shine a laser light into an iPhone 6 camera I get these weird shapes: The shapes are in no way in the background behind the laser. What causes these to appear? I know about typical lense ...
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217 views

A light so strong it has a shadow

I have recently taken an interest in shadows. I know that in order for a shadow to exist that you must have a solid in the way of the light. My hypothesis is that there can be a light so strong, like ...
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Three polarizers, 45° apart

If light is passed through two polarizing filters before arriving at a target, and both of the filters are oriented at 90° to each other, then no light will be received at the target. If a third ...
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114 views

Are there naturally occurring lasers in nature?

Are there natural processes we've discovered which lead to laser light of some distinct wavelength?
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How to measure temperature of a laser cooled sample at picoKelvin temperatures?

I'm reading about laser cooling.. my question is: how can the temperature of the sample be measured? (using laser cooling we can reach $10^{-12}K...)$
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Counterpropagating beams in a ring cavity lasers

Ring cavity lasers usually has a intracavity element like a optical diode to forbid standing wave pattern and, consequently, spacial hole burning and related instabilities. So, my question is: why to ...
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Using a laser to overhear a room conversation

Movies with science based tricks and gimmicks are generally silly and sometimes even annoying. The science based trick that I don't know enough about to judge is the following (and I have seen it in a ...
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288 views

Will a laser beam be affected by the Coriolis Force?

Electronic aiming systems use automated rangefinders that can sometimes be based on lasers. Obviously a projectile itself will be subject to the Coriolis Force (among others) and deviate from its ...
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Can we fire a single femtosecond pulse of light without an associated train of additional pulses? What sort of equipment allows for this?

What sort of mode-locked laser systems allow for the production of single isolated pulse of light (as opposed to a train of more than one pulse), where the individual pulse duration is on order ...
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533 views

Rocket propelled by a giant monochromatic laser

I am preparing for my quals and stumbled across the following problem, and although it only requires undergraduate-level physics, I feel I can't piece everything together. "A rocket of mass $m_0$ is ...
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621 views

Optical Drive Physics

I have been recently wondering how is data stored on and retrieved from optical devices like CDs, DVDs, and Bluray. What makes these different storage types different from each other?
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636 views

Focusing laser & off-axis illumination & diffraction limit

I've thought I had a good understanding how resolution enhancement tricks works for projection lithography, until I tried to understand if it's possible to get sub-diffraction performance for focused ...
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174 views

Optical element is heated by laser: is it possible to get oscillating heat distribution?

Imagine that we have thin optical element, which is irradiated by laser. Laser heats element, so there is some heat distribution in element. There is a heat sink through upper and lower element faces ...
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Is circular masking a laser beam an acceptable way to get the beam diameter you require?

I am wondering what are the down sides to just masking a laser to get the beam diameter you require? For example if you have a collimated eliptical beam of say 2mm width and 4mm height, but you ...
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Spectrum of generic $\mathrm{CO_2}$ laser

It is often quoted, that it's emission is 10.6um. But we also know that CO2 lasers have huge number of possible emission lines in 2 main bands: 10.6um and 9.6/9.4um. But what is emission spectra of ...
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364 views

Will overlapping two different beams of coherent light cause interference?

I have two laser beams with same polarization running parallel to each other. Will they interfere? If yes, then what are the conditions (perpendicular distance etc) and how can I observe the ...
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1answer
124 views

What low-level process drives a frequency-doubling crystal?

I was reading about second-harmonic generation (SHG) crystals (or frequency-doubling crystals) used to produce green laser light from IR. What low-level process in the crystal is actually driving ...
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Can 2 beams of ultraviolet light intersect and be visible where they intersect?

Is it possible that if you have 2 ultraviolet lasers, that are invisible to the human eye, and if you aim their beams to intersect at some point, that the place of intersection will show a lower ...
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138 views

What theories allow for “Tractor Beams”?

NASA recently announced $100k grant to study the possibility of using laser tractor beams. What tractor beam concepts have been published but not been dis-proven?
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311 views

Laser frequency tripling

I've heard that common way to get 354nm laser is to triple 1064nm Nd:YAG one. But how to make non-linear crystal to do tripling instead of doubling? What are the best crystals for tripling and what's ...
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Turn-on delay time for Laser diode

Do you know any simple explanation on the reason why the turn-on delay time on a laser diode is reducing while we increase the bias current? Turn on delay,is the time that the laser needs from the ...