Laser Fundamentals

  • Winston E. Kock
Part of the Optical Physics and Engineering book series (OPEG)


The earliest stimulated-emission device to be developed was the microwave maser; it was demonstrated in 1954.(1) For its development, the Nobel Prize in Physics was awarded jointly in 1964 to the U.S. scientist, Charles H. Townes, then at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and to the Soviet scientists A. M. Prokhorov and N. Basov, both at the Lebedev Institute in Moscow. Figure 6.1 is a photograph of Professor Prokhorov and the author and was taken in 1959 in Prokhorov’s laboratory in the Lebedev Institute. Following the success of the maser, many workers endeavored to extend its use from microwaves to light wavelengths. In 1960, the U.S. scientist T. H. Maiman, then at the Research Laboratories of the Hughes Aircraft Company in California, demonstrated the first laser, using a ruby rod as the active element.(2) His original laser is shown in Figure 6.2. Since the basic process for generating light is common to all three types of lasers, let us examine the workings of Maiman’s ruby laser in some detail.


Laser Light Metastable State Light Wave Lower Energy State Ruby Laser 
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Copyright information

© Plenum Press, New York 1975

Authors and Affiliations

  • Winston E. Kock
    • 1
  1. 1.The Herman Schneider Laboratory of Basic and Applied Science ResearchUniversity of CincinnatiCincinnatiUSA

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