Lasers are used in many different ways and there's a lot more to know than just what you see in science fiction. Lasers can be found in hospitals and dental clinics, classrooms, factories, for cutting or welding metal, and even for generating an extremely precise map of the world! Let's explore the different types of lasers - what they're made from, what they do best, and more!

1. Fiber Lasers

Fibers are thin flexible strands of plastic or glass often used in clothing and other textiles. Fiber lasers were first created in 1970 by Dr. Yoshio Noda at the University of Tokyo, but it wasn't until the 1980s that their potential was realized. Fiber lasers are very precise and they're commonly used for medical procedures like eye surgery! Fiber lasers are the most versatile laser type in existence. They have a wide range of applications in many different sectors, including medicine, manufacturing, Photonics Products manufacturing, and construction. Fiber lasers use light to cut through materials with incredible precision, making them ideal for tasks like surgical procedures where accuracy is key. But fiber lasers can also be used for welding metal or other industrial processes that require high power levels without generating too much heat - important when working with sensitive components or materials that could be damaged by excessive heating.

2. Chemical Lasers

Chemical lasers operate using chemicals that react to produce laser beams! The chemicals are excited by energy - examples include deuterium fluoride (DF), deuterium chloride (DCl), sulfur monochloride (SCl), hydrogen peroxide (H2O2), and hydrogen fluoride (HF), while selective laser sintering (SLS) is used in 3D printing. These lasers are often used in industrial applications such as machine welding, processing metals, and cutting. The laser beams they produce can be extremely powerful and they can even employ cutting techniques to help with surgery and other medical procedures! One type of chemical laser is the carbon dioxide laser - it's commonly used for industrial purposes like welding and cutting because it has a high power level. But this thing isn't just strong - it's also really versatile! Different types of CO2 lasers emit infrared (IR) light or ultraviolet (UV) light, which allows them to cut multiple types of materials including glass, metal, plastics, wood, ceramic tiles, paper products, rubber hose assemblies, and vinyl siding, and fabric.

3. Semiconductor Diode Lasers

Semiconductor diode lasers are used in many areas of industry and research thanks to their keen precision and high energy levels. They're widely used in the production of optoelectronic devices like CD/DVD players and computer monitors! They can also be found in medical equipment such as eye surgery lasers, sonic baths, dermatology instruments, home laser alignment tools for golfing ranges, surgical appliances or massage machines, and more! They might not be as powerful as other types of lasers but they're very precise - this makes them perfect for applications where accuracy is key. This is because semiconductor diode lasers emit a concentrated beam that can also travel far. Also, they're generally smaller, lighter, and easier to handle than other types of lasers! They're not as powerful as CO2 lasers but they can still cut most materials with good precision.

4. Gas Lasers

Gas lasers have been around for a long time - they first became available in 1960! But it wasn't until the 1980s that their potential was realized and even today they're still used in a variety of industries, including defense, medical, automotive, and consumer electronics. The gas laser was invented by William R. Bennett at Bell Laboratories, which is why it's sometimes called the "Bennett" laser. Thanks to the high-quality beams they produce (and shorter wavelength than other types of such as CO2) these lasers are often used for cutting materials like glass or metal with exceptional accuracy! Another application of gas lasers is projection TVs that use helium-ne (HeNe) green and red lasers.

Carbon dioxide lasers are very different than the others! They operate using carbon dioxide gas which is usually stored in a liquid state until it's used - when the laser fires, the CO2 gets heated up and changes into a plasma plume that emits light waves! The way these lasers work means they're one of the most powerful types available. The power levels vary depending on how often you fire them but this type of laser has been known to produce beams with over 100 kilowatts (kW) worth of energy. But they aren't just strong - they're versatile too! Different types of CO2 lasers emit infrared (IR) light or ultraviolet (UV) light, which allows them to cut multiple types of materials.

5. Diode-Pumped Solid-State Lasers

Diode-pumped solid-state lasers (DPSSLs) are typically produced from YAG crystal materials and they're used in a variety of fields, such as research and development labs, defense technologies, laser welding, and cutting processes, and even in medical applications like eye surgery! These lasers can also generate extremely high power levels - DPSSLs emit beams that can travel long distances and cut through thick materials with high accuracy. This makes them great for tasks like welding metal or light production for projection TVs! They're often used in industrial machines due to their reliability - the only disadvantage is that you need more expensive diode pumps to power them compared to other laser types. Also, DPSSLs aren't as efficient as other types of lasers, so they can cost more to run.

6. Semiconductor Optical Amplifiers

Semiconductor optical amplifiers (SOAs) are a type of laser that consists of a homogeneous semiconducting material doped with impurities to give it electrical conductivity. This optical amplifier is a type of solid-state device that converts the energy from a pump into the light - they're used in fiber optic communications systems and sensors, as well as for medical applications like laser surgery! Although these lasers don't produce the strongest beams compared to other types, they have really high efficiencies too so it's possible to generate extremely powerful beams by combining multiple SOAs together - this makes them great for tackling a variety of tasks.

Now you know all about CO2 lasers, semiconductor diode lasers, gas lasers, DPSSLs, and SOAs! Lasers are an amazing technology that can be found in many different types of industrial equipment, consumer goods, and even medical equipment.

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