Versatile Materials Works in Diverse Applications
Ed Teppo, Big Sky Laser Technologies Inc.
The Nd:YAG laser crystal was developed in the 1960s, not long after the discovery of the ruby laser. Its combination of high gain, narrow linewidth, low threshold and physical properties makes it a very versatile laser material and a variety of applications.
For the military, it has provided rangefinding and target designation capabilities. When used with nonlinear optics or as a pump source for other lasers, it offers scientific users diversity in pulse width format and lasing wavelengths. Other applications include medicine, materials processing and commercial instrumentation. Nd:YAG lasers and their harmonic version are used under harsh environmental conditions for remote sensing, illumination for gated imaging, bathymetry, ocean and atmospheric studies, and many other applications that require compact, rugged sources.