Essay by Andrew JohnsonA+, February 1997

download word file, 3 pages 4.3

The laser is a device that a beam of light that is both scientifically and practically of great use because it is coherent light. The beam is produced by a process known as stimulated emission, and the word 'laser' is an acronym for the phrase 'light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation.'

Light is just like radio waves in the way that it can also carry information. The information is encoded in the beam as variations in the frequency or shape of the light wave. The good part is that since light waves have much higher frequencies they can also hold much more information.

Not only is the particle the smallest light unit but it is a particle as well as a wave. In beams of light whether they are ordinary natural or artificial the photon waves will not be traveling together because they are not being emitted at exactly the same moment but instead at random short bursts.

Even if the light is of a single frequency that statement would also be true. A laser is useful because it produces light that is not only of essentially a single frequency but also coherent, with the light waves all moving along in unison.

Lasers consist of several components. A few of the many things that the so-called active medium might consist of are, atoms of a gas, molecules in a liquid, and ions in a crystal. Another component consists of some method of introducing energy into the active medium, such as a flash lamp for example. Another component is the pair of mirrors on either side of the active medium which consists of one that transmits some of the radiation that hits it. If the active component in the laser is a gas laser than each atom is...