What is a LASER? How does it work and What is its uses?
First lets be clear: LASER is short for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation
In 1917 +Albert Einstein ( +Albert Einstein fan page ) introduced the concept of stimulated
emission and laid down the foundation of the LASER. The concept Einstein developed was that when a photon stimulates an excited molecule or atom a second photon with the same frequency, phase, polarization and direction is emitted. For a detailed explanation, have a look at this +YouTube video:
The first operational LASERS were developed by Theodore Maiman in 1959 – he was also awarded the first LASER patent in 1960. Since then more than 55’000 LASER patents have been awarded in America, so the multitude of uses and applications for LASERS of today was certainly the work of a number of brilliant scientists and engineers.
For a full list of laser applications, have a look at this wiki: list of applications. Since there are so many different applications, here are just a few examples of different LASER applications and designs.
The Allpronix AL40
On the right is a picture of an AL40 level transmitter developed and manufactured in South Africa by a previous employer of mine: +Allpronix. This LASER is used in industrial applications where the level of product (solids or opaque liquids) in a tank needs to be monitored.
The AL40’s design is the first of its kind to have an on board LCD display and on-board buttons. The buttons are used to program and set up the AL40 for different applications.
For example it can be set for level or distance measurement. Distance will be used in applications like crane positioning. For more information on the AL40, go to http://www.allpronix.com/level/
Lunar Ranging Experiment
A very cool experiment is the “Lunar Laser Ranging Experiment”. During the Apollo 11, 14, 15 programs retro-reflector arrays were planted on the moon’s surface. Lasers on earth is aimed at these retro-reflector arrays and the time the laser pulses travel is measured to determine the distance of the moon from earth.
In most jurisdictions these are restricted to 5mW. More details on this can be found at: Jurisdiction info
Another very well known laser application is bar code scanners, which is also a low powered LED laser emitting device used to read bar codes off any item, usually for inventory and pricing control.
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