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The laser is a device that produces a beam of light The beam is produced by a process known as stimulated emission and the word laser is an acronym for the phrase light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation Lasers amplify light and produce coherent light beams A light beam is coherent when its waves or photons are in step with one another Laser light can be made extremely intense highly directional and very pure in color BASIC PRINCIPLES Light can be characterized both by its frequency or number of wave crests passing a given point per second and by its wavelength Different wavelengths of light are seen as different colors Like radio waves light can also carry information The information in the beam varies in the frequency or shape of the light wave Because light waves are of much higher frequencies than radio waves the have a higher information carrying capacity In beams of lightindividual photon waves are not moving along together because they are not being emitted at the same instant but instead in random short bursts Such beams are called incoherent The process for laser action was first proposed by Albert Einstein in 1917 The working principles of lasers were outlined by the American physicists Arthur Leonard Schawlow and Charles Hard Townes in their 1958 patent application The patent was granted but was later challenged by the American physicist and engineer Gordon Gould In 1960 the American physicist Theodore Maiman observed the first laser action in solid ruby HOW A LASER WORKS A laser is made up of several basic components One is called active medium which consists of atoms of a gas molecules in a liquid ions in a crystal or any of several other possibilities Another component consists of some method of introducing energy into the active medium such as a flash lamp The third basic component is a pair of mirrors placed on either side of the active
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