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.

learn more… | top users | synonyms (1)

22
votes
2answers
7k 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 ...
5
votes
1answer
2k 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 ...
4
votes
4answers
1k 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 ...
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 ...
7
votes
6answers
28k views

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 ...
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 ...
6
votes
3answers
859 views

Recently publicized experiment on destructive interference between two laser beams

Recently I've had several non-physicist friends ask me, independently of each other, about an experiment where two collinear laser beams destructively interfere along a certain length. Everybody wants ...
4
votes
2answers
716 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 ...
6
votes
4answers
6k views

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?
12
votes
4answers
988 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 ...
16
votes
2answers
2k 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. ...
8
votes
4answers
43k 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 ...
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 ...
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) ...
7
votes
2answers
3k views

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 ...
3
votes
1answer
88 views

Would a giant satellite laser work as a weapon?

If someone built a satellite to float about in space, which used mirrors to focus and magnify energy from the sun directly into one direct spot (like in the James Bond film Die Another Day) would it ...
2
votes
3answers
773 views

Lasers and Collimation

If lasers are collimated, what causes them to decollimate? Their production system seems to suggest a completely linear, collimated light source, but they do spread out over large distances. The same ...
1
vote
3answers
3k views

Can energy be extracted from clouds?

Can cloud charge imbalance be used as an energy source? First off quite some energy must be present in clouds: a lightning path is quite long, and electrical breakdown of air requires about 1MV/m. ...
8
votes
4answers
3k views

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 ...
3
votes
1answer
3k views

Doppler cooling limit vs recoil limit

I was discussing laser cooling in class today and I understood that the main principle of the process is to tune a laser to a frequency lower than the absorbtion frequency of the atom and so only the ...
3
votes
1answer
47 views

How is a result of no time variation in the gravitational constant $G$ related to a measurement of no local expansion?

In this answer @PhillS linked to the paper Progress in Lunar Laser Ranging Tests of Relativistic Gravity which has given me a great start. While its main focus is on the Equivalence Principle (EP) ...
2
votes
10answers
3k views

How far can light go?

When a ray of light is projected, (say) from the surface of Earth to outside in space. The condition is that, there is no obstruction to it till infinity (it travels only in vaccum). My question is ...
4
votes
2answers
1k views

How can a green laser be reflected as orange?

My friend recently bought a high-powerd pocket laser pen (from China). It is green, and reflects off most surfaces as green. On some orange surfaces, it reflects orange instead. That is to say, we ...
3
votes
2answers
1k views

Propagation of light in transparent media: absorption and reemission or scattering?

In the two Phys.SE questions What is the mechanism behind the slowdown of light/photons in a transparent medium? and Why glass is transparent? transparent media were discussed. But I'd like to clarify ...
3
votes
3answers
305 views

Stimulated emission and No cloning theorem

I have a little trouble with the simulated emission. I know of the no-cloning theorem which states that it is not possible to duplicate any state. One the other hand, I know about the stimulated ...
3
votes
1answer
234 views

What determines the form of the intensity curves in Laser-Induced Fluorescence (LIF) measurements?

What determines the form of the intensity spectra of different particle species in Laser-Induced Fluorescence (LIF) measurements? See e.g. I figure that bigger particles have more ways to get ...
56
votes
3answers
7k 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?
18
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 ...
14
votes
1answer
895 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. ...
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 ...
6
votes
4answers
657 views

Far-field intensity from scattering of small particles

Howdy, I'm building a simulation for looking at the light field underwater. In order to verify my simulation, I'm looking for some data showing the far-field intensity that comes from single ...
15
votes
1answer
431 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
10k 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 ...
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 ...
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, ...
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 ...
4
votes
1answer
714 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 ...
2
votes
3answers
3k views

How would a laser gun actually work?

So, let's assume that the "laser gun / phaser / beam weapon" from all sorts of Sci Fi were an actual thing. You know - a weapon that uses a laser to kill somebody. I'm trying to imagine the physics ...
11
votes
4answers
550 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: ...
8
votes
2answers
757 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 ...
6
votes
2answers
218 views

Why not just pump directly to the $3^\mathrm{rd}$ level directly in a $4$-level laser system?

In a 4-level laser system, the pumping is usually from level 1 (the ground state) to level 4 (the highest-energy state). Image source Why do such schemes not pump directly to the third level? Will ...
4
votes
2answers
771 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?
4
votes
2answers
457 views

Gamma Ray LASER Theory and Technology

I am aware that a similar question has been asked by someone else in the past, but in a very general form. Due to the physics interest and technology, in this question I put emphasis on the detail of ...
3
votes
1answer
245 views

How to create a barrier for sound waves?

Is there a way to create a barrier so that sound waves cannot pass through? Does laser light have this ability to act as a barrier or bounce sound waves back? This came to my mind when I was ...
2
votes
1answer
368 views

What is 'tilt locking' of a laser cavity?

In another question, jasonh mentions a scheme for locking a laser to a resonant cavity called 'tilt locking': The signal is used for locking the frequency of a laser to a high finesse cavity. The ...
0
votes
2answers
56 views

Laser beam sensed by scattering

Can a laser beam, whether it is a IR laser or of the visible to human eye spectrum, be seen/sensed by an electronic eye like a photosensor/photodetector, not human eye, if the beam is just in air? For ...
7
votes
2answers
481 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). ...
6
votes
3answers
3k views

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 ...
5
votes
1answer
54 views

Laser resonator analytic formula for sum of modes

For a sum of N modes in a resonator with identical phases, find an analytic formula for the pulse shape in the limit of many modes. Use the analytic expression for the sum of a geometric series. ...
5
votes
2answers
1k views

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: http://redlum.xohp.pagesperso-orange.fr/...