Lasers / Laser Systems

Lasers / Laser Systems

Lasers in the Laboratory:

Pulsed Multi-Wavelength LaserLasers, which stands for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation, are sources of energy characterized by monochromaticity (aka spectral purity), beam coherence (light waves perfectly in phase and with the same polarization), and high average and peak intensity.

Each of these characteristics offers unique benefits for specialized applications in medical, commercial, or scientific fields, including interferometry; spectroscopy techniques, such as Raman and laser-induced breakdown spectroscopy; microscopy; and photochemistry. A laser system comprises an optical resonator to allow light to circulate and a gain medium for light amplification.

How do I choose a laser or laser system?

Lasers are differentiated by the type of material they use to facilitate the laser action, which in turn points the user to the best system for his or her use. Solid-state lasers use a solid matrix such as Nd-YAG, Ti:Sapphire, or glass to produce high output power or very high beam quality and monochromaticity at lower power. Gas laser types include helium-neon (often used in interferometry), CO2, and excimer (useful in materials processing). Dye lasers and fiber lasers have the advantage of being tunable over a broad wavelength range. Semiconductor lasers, or laser diodes, are often used in laser absorption spectrometry.

Once the correct type of laser has been identified, it’s time to take a look at additional laser parameters.

Key features to keep in mind include:

  • Output power
  • Wavelength (with offerings from UV to NIR and FIR)
  • Beam quality
  • Beam intensity
  • Continuous or pulsed operation

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