Photonics Dictionary

laser crystal

A laser crystal, also known as an active medium or gain medium, is a solid-state material used in the construction of lasers. The primary function of the laser crystal is to amplify light by stimulated emission of photons, leading to the generation of a coherent and focused laser beam. The choice of crystal material depends on factors such as the desired output wavelength, power output, efficiency, and other optical properties required for the specific application.

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Some common materials used as laser crystals include:

Ruby (Cr:Al2O3): Ruby was one of the first materials used in the construction of lasers. It emits red light (694.3 nm) when pumped with an appropriate energy source. Ruby lasers have been widely used in scientific, medical, and military applications.

Nd:YAG (neodymium-doped yttrium aluminum garnet): Nd:YAG crystals are doped with neodymium ions and emit light at 1064 nm (near-infrared) when pumped with a suitable energy source such as a flashlamp or diode laser. Nd:YAG lasers are highly versatile and find applications in industry, medicine (e.g., laser surgery), telecommunications, and research.

Er:YAG (erbium-doped yttrium aluminum garnet): Er:YAG crystals emit light at 2940 nm (mid-infrared) when pumped with a suitable energy source. Er:YAG lasers are primarily used in dermatology for skin resurfacing, as well as in dentistry and other medical applications.

Ti:Sapphire (titanium-doped sapphire): Ti:Sapphire crystals are doped with titanium ions and can produce laser light over a broad range of wavelengths (typically from 650 nm to 1100 nm) when pumped with a suitable energy source. Ti:Sapphire lasers are widely used in research laboratories for spectroscopy, microscopy, and ultrafast laser applications.

Yb:YAG (ytterbium-doped yttrium aluminum garnet): Yb:YAG crystals emit light at around 1030 nm (near-infrared) and are often used in high-power laser systems, including industrial cutting, welding, and materials processing applications.

GaN (gallium nitride): GaN crystals are used to produce blue and violet laser diodes, which find applications in displays (e.g., Blu-ray Disc players), laser projectors, and solid-state lighting.

These are just a few examples of the many types of laser crystals available, each with its own unique properties and applications. The choice of laser crystal depends on the specific requirements of the laser system and the intended application.
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