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This American physicist born in Los Angeles California Maiman in his teens earned money by repairing electrical appliances and radios He was educated at the University of Colorado and Stanford University At the University of Colorado he received bachelors degree in engineering physics in 1949 Then went on to do graduate work at Stanford University where he received a masters degree in electrical engineering in 1951 and PhD in physics in 1955 While employed at Hughes Research Laboratories as a section head in 1960 Maiman was the first to successfully produce a pulse of coherent light from a laser He accomplished this in May 1960 using ruby as the laser medium For which this remarkable invention he gained worldwide recognition It contained a synthetic cylindrical ruby with a completely reflecting silver layer on one end and a partially reflecting silver layer on the other Ruby is composed of aluminum oxide with chromium impurities The chromium atoms absorb blue light and become excited they then drop first to a low level and finally to the ground unexcited state giving off red light Light from a flash lamp enters the ruby and excites most of the chromium atoms many of which fall quickly to the low level Some atoms then emit red light and return to the ground state The light waves strike other excited chromium atoms stimulating them to emit more red lights The beam bounces back and forth between the silvered ends until it gains enough energy to burst through the partially silvered end as laser light When most of the chromium atoms are back in the ground state they absorb light and the lasing action stops In continuous-wave lasers such as the helium-neon laser electrons emit light by jumping to a lower excited state forming a new atomic population that does not absorb laser light rather than to the ground state His colleagues at Hughes Laboratory thought his
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