Laser physics for the non-specialist

  • Gregory T. Absten
  • Stephen N. Joffe


The word ‘LASER’ is an acronym for Light Amplification by the Stimulated Emission of Radiation. Visible light is only one small portion of the electromagnetic spectrum (Fig. 1). Although the exact nature of light is still not understood, it does show properties both of discrete particles (photons) and waves. For the purposes of understanding the electromagnetic spectrum and lasers, we will primarily look at light in terms of its wave characteristics. A wave is characterized by four quantities: wavelength, amplitude, frequency and velocity (Fig. 2).


Dioxide Argon Coherence Yttrium Crest 


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Copyright information

© G.T. Absten and S.N. Joffe 1985

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gregory T. Absten
    • 1
    • 2
  • Stephen N. Joffe
    • 3
  1. 1.Scientific Fellow of the American Society for Laser Medicine and SurgeryUniversity of Cincinnati Medical CollegeUSA
  2. 2.The Laser Forum, Inc.USA
  3. 3.Gastrointestinal and Endocrine SurgeryUniversity of Cincinnati Medical CenterUSA

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