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Laser history goes on and on

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Tom Laurin

This issue of Photonics Spectra may be the final installment of our three-month special feature article celebration of the laser’s 50th anniversary, but the party isn’t over.

This month’s laser features include an article by Spectra-Physics about the development of the Ti:sapphire laser and its applications; a walk through the history of the Laser Institute of America (LIA); editor Hank Hogan’s examination of fiber lasers for industrial uses; and Trumpf’s predictions for what the next 50 years will bring. And “Creating Art with Light,” a Web exclusive on, explores the ways in which lasers have contributed to the arts, from laser animation to audience scanning, from holographic sculptures to works of art that use laser beams to create patterns.

You can relive high points from the laser’s history anytime you like at, an interactive timeline that allows you to scroll through the years and click on milestones for more details.

And we have launched a new reference, too:, where you can easily find a wide array of laser types, applications and manufacturers. We are excited about this and hope you are, too. We would love your feedback on these two new initiatives. Please contact our senior Web editor, Melinda Rose, at [email protected].

But we at Photonics Media aren’t the only ones still celebrating.

LIA announced last month that it will present its first Lifetime Achievement Award to laser pioneer Dr. Charles Townes, 94, who won the 1964 Nobel Prize in physics “for fundamental work in the field of quantum electronics, which has led to the construction of oscillators and amplifiers based on the maser-laser principle.” The award will be presented during the 29th International Congress on Applications of Lasers and Electro-Optics at the end of September in Anaheim, Calif.

An exhibit called LaserLab, developed by Trumpf Inc. and mechanical engineering students from the Stuttgart University of Cooperative Education in Germany, offers visitors to the Connecticut Science Center in Hartford a chance to get hands-on with lasers. In the process, of course, they can learn all about what lasers do, how they do it and how they touch our lives every day.

And LaserFest is still in full swing, with events and exhibits around the country at trade shows, conferences and science festivals through the end of the year. Late this month, Spectra the Original Laser Superhero will make her Comic-Con debut in San Diego. The comic book series was developed by the American Physical Society to teach kids about lasers.

But we don’t only celebrate the laser’s history with special events – we celebrate it by using the technology every day, and by working continually to explore and expand its potential.

Photonics Spectra
Jul 2010
Editorialfiber lasersfiber opticsholographic sculpturesindustriallaser animationlaser beamsTi:sapphire laserlasers

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