Nicolaas Bloembergen

50 Years of Lasers (Lecture + Discussion)


Abstract

Theodore Maiman demonstrated the operation of a ruby laser in1960. Soon many different types were invented, including the heium-neon laser, the neodumium –glass laser, GaAS semiconductor lasers, CO2 lasersand dye-lasers. In those early years lasers were sometimes described as a solution looking for a problem, but now applications are ubiquitous. They play an essential role in world-wide internet communications, in surgery, in medicine, as research tool in chemistry, biology astronomy, geology, materials science, etc. More mundane applications occur in the construction industry, the automotive and shipbuilding industry, barcode readers in supermarkets, holographic displays, analysis of artworks, etc. While originally military considerations provided much of the financial support for laser research, now the peaceful uses far outweigh the military applications.


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