Typically in the old days one would use a flash tube to pump a ruby crystal. Is there any way, or any lasing material, that could use concentrated sunlight directly for either continuous or pulsed operation? I am familiar with some attempts but the materials available seem rather limited

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    $\begingroup$ Sunlight has such a broad spectrum that I suspect many things could theoretically be pumped by it. The efficiency will be very low however. BTW, are you familiar with the Martian atmosphere CO$_2$ laser? $\endgroup$ – Chris Mueller Mar 30 '15 at 19:30
  • $\begingroup$ It probably already exists $\endgroup$ – fffred Mar 30 '15 at 20:09
  • $\begingroup$ It indeed exists, and is developed further. DOI: 10.1364/OE.21.025107 $\endgroup$ – Jarosław Komar Mar 31 '15 at 4:23

They already exist. "Solar-pumped lasers already exist: they work by concentrating sunlight onto crystalline materials such as neodymium-doped yttrium aluminium garnet, causing them to emit laser light." (source) They have been innovated though, so there are more efficient method to make solar-powered lasers now.

  • $\begingroup$ I know, IIRC it was referenced in the wikipedia article. However, there must be more lasing mediums than those mentioned. Ideally I would like one that operated at visual wavelengths. $\endgroup$ – user56903 Mar 31 '15 at 7:02

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