Carbon Dioxide Lasers
Carbon dioxide lasers are one of the most powerful lasers ever constructed. The word ?LASER? stands for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. Lasers are devices that amplify light and produce light beams, ranging from infrared to ultraviolet. A light beam is consistent when its waves or photons, increase while mixing together. Laser light can be extremely intense, highly directional and very pure in color. Gas lasers such as the carbon dioxide laser is made active by ultraviolet light, electron beams, electric current. Lasers, in the future, will be used tremendously in the hospitals, research, military, and even in our homes.
Albert Einstein, in 1917, was the first to develop the process for laser action. In 1958, American physicists Arthur Schawlow and Charles Hard develop the working principles of lasers. Another American physicist Theodore Maiman observed the first laser action in a solid ruby, in 1960. A year later a helium-neon gas laser was constructed by Ali Javan. Then in 1966 a liquid laser was built by Peter Sorokin. With the inventions of different types of lasers developed by the previous mentioned physicist, lasers are generally classified as solid state, gas, semiconductor, or liquid.
The laser of a gas can be a pure gas, a mixture of gases or even metal vapor and is contained in a cylindrical glass or tube. Two mirrors are positioned outside the ends of the tube to form the laser. Gas lasers are pumped by ultra violet light, electron beams, electric current, or chemical reactions(Britannica Junior Encyclop?dia v.9 p.72) The carbon dioxide lasers are very efficient and they are the most powerful laser. These high powered lasers are measured in WATTs and KILOWATTS. Not mattering the size of the laser, a laser the size of a neon tube will constantly produce for ten seconds of WATTs.
A larger laser is mainly used in the metalworking for the industry business. It is used for welding, cutting, annealing, and more with a production of up to thirty KILOWATTS or more. Because the power of the carbon dioxide laser it has become valuable tools in industry, scientific research, communication, medicine, the military and the arts. A powerful laser beam can be directed to a small spot with a large powerful ray. The focused beams can heat, melt or vaporize material in a clear manner. Lasers have been used to drill holes in diamonds to shape machine tools, to cut fashion patterns and attempt to controlled nuclear fusion. The powerful short beams from a laser makes possible high speed photography with an exposure time cut way back.
Lasers are used for monitoring the earth?s movement and detecting certain types of air pollution. The laser is also used for determining the earth-moon distance and in test of relativity. In the sciences, lasers can help scientists study the molecular structures of matter. This helps the medical field in cutting and burning certain tissues without damaging the surrounding healthy tissues. They have been used to ?weld? the retina, bore holes in the skull, vaporize lesions, and cauterize blood vessels(Funk and Wagnalls Encyclopedia v.15 p.411). The military has used lasers for guidance systems for missiles, aircraft, and satellites. In 1983, former President Ronald Reagan, urged the defense system to use laser beams against hostile ballistic missiles. Also the military uses the laser to help create more nuclear weapons.
Electrical power in an optical power of high efficiency is a carbon dioxide laser. The laser gives out an output of medium-Inferred radiation at 10.6 ?m (?m = millionth of a meter). Also when the laser is producing, it gives off heat; just like in the movies, books, and comic books. Some carbon dioxide lasers use diamonds rather than being dependent on the gases.
The construction of a carbon dioxide laser is similar to a gas laser. A tube filled with gas between a pair of mirrors triggered by an electrical discharge. The mirrors can not be glass, but metal coated (i.e., gold or copper). The reason for not being able to have a glass mirror is that it would either melt or overheat the machine. The optics for the laser may be other material, such as rock salt, diamonds, water absorbing, and zinc selenide.
Lasers, in the future, will be used tremendously in the hospitals, research, military, and even in our homes. The way lasers will be used in hospitals is described above, they will be used for removing parts of the body, and cutting holes to help with a medical operation. In the medical field, lasers will be used the same as they are today. Lasers will help research the universe, the earth, and other mysterious things. Using lasers for research might teach us of how to reach light speed, or at least come close. The military will use lasers more than they do now. There will be hand-held weapons that possess the ability to shot a laser. Aircraft?s will have lasers, because it will become less expensive to buy the unit to shoot a laser than buy a missile that for a one time use. In our homes, lasers will replace the knife to slice ham or the turkey. Instead of knives, there will be little lasers in the shape of a pen that will be used to slice your food. Lasers will also be used as cooking units instead of the stove or microwave.
Bram, Leon L. Funk and Wagnalls New Encyclopedia. Volume 15. Funk and Wagnalls Corporation, 1990.
Compton?s Interactive Encyclopedia. Version 3.00. Compton?s NewMedia, Inc. 1994.