A Brief Look at the History of Laser Technology

Laser Technology Laser technology is now quite common, but it has a fairly recent history. As recently as several decades ago, laser technology was largely experimental and not yet widely adopted for commercial usage. Now, laser technology is used for a variety of applications, including healthcare, machining, and alignment systems. Here is a brief look at the history of laser technology.

Albert Einstein is widely credited with initiating the development of laser technology. Though Einstein did not live to see laser technology actually developed (he died several years before the first working prototype laser was built), he was the first to predict the “stimulated emission” phenomenon that was used to develop laser technology.

In the decades following Einstein’s stimulated emission prediction, several other researchers advanced theories that would lead to the development of lasers. In 1959, a graduate student at Columbia University theorized that Einstein’s stimulated emissions could be used to amplify light. He named this technology LASER, or Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation.

The following year, in 1960, a researcher at Hughes Research Laboratories developed the first prototype laser. The laser was built using a synthetic ruby and emitted the classic red light that is often associated with laser technology. This laser found commercial usage by the U.S. military that used it for rangefinders.

Several years after the development of the Hughes ruby laser, a carbon dioxide (CO2) laser was developed at AT&T Bell Labs in 1963. The CO2 laser turned out to be much more efficient and less expensive to build than the ruby laser developed several years earlier.

More than 50 years have now passed since the development of the CO2 laser. While improvements continue to be made to laser technology, the CO2 laser has remained the most popular type for industrial applications.

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