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List of laser types

  This is a list of laser types, their operational wavelengths, and their applications. Many thousands of kinds of laser are known, but most of them are not used beyond specialised research.


Gas lasers

Main article: Gas laser
Laser gain medium and type Operation wavelength(s) Pump source Applications and notes
Helium-neon laser 632.8 nm (543.5 nm, 593.9 nm, 611.8 nm, 1.1523 μm, 1.52 μm, 3.3913 μm) Electrical discharge Interferometry, holography, spectroscopy, barcode scanning, alignment, optical demonstrations.
Argon laser 454.6 nm, 488.0 nm, 514.5 nm (351 nm,457.9 nm, 465.8 nm, 476.5 nm, 472.7 nm, 528.7 nm) Electrical discharge Retinal phototherapy (for diabetes), lithography, confocal microscopy, pumping other lasers.
Krypton laser 416 nm, 530.9 nm, 568.2 nm, 647.1 nm, 676.4 nm, 752.5 nm, 799.3 nm Electrical discharge Scientific research, mixed with argon to create "white-light" lasers, light shows.
Xenon ion laser Many lines throughout visible spectrum extending into the UV and IR. Electrical discharge Scientific research.
Nitrogen laser 337.1 nm Electrical discharge Pumping of dye lasers, measuring air pollution, scientific research. Nitrogen lasers can operate superradiantly (without a resonator cavity). Amateur laser construction. See TEA laser
Carbon dioxide laser 10.6 μm, (9.4 μm) Transverse (high power) or longitudinal (low power) electrical discharge Material processing (cutting, welding, etc.), surgery.
Carbon monoxide laser 2.6 to 4 μm, 4.8 to 8.3 μm Electrical discharge Material processing (engraving, welding, etc.), photoacoustic spectroscopy.
Excimer laser 193 nm (ArF), 248 nm (KrF), 308 nm (XeCl), 353 nm (XeF) Excimer recombination via electrical discharge Ultraviolet lithography for semiconductor manufacturing, laser surgery, LASIK.

Chemical lasers

Main article: Chemical laser

Used as directed-energy weapons.

Laser gain medium and type Operation wavelength(s) Pump source Applications and notes
Hydrogen fluoride laser 2.7 to 2.9 μm for Hydrogen fluoride (<80% Atmospheric transmittance) Chemical reaction in a burning jet of ethylene and nitrogen trifluoride (NF3) Used in research for laser weaponry by the U.S. DOD, operated in continuous wave mode, can have power in the megawatt range.
Deuterium fluoride laser ~3800 nm (3.6 to 4.2 μm) (~90% Atm. transmittance) chemical reaction MIRACL, Pulsed Energy Projectile & Tactical High Energy Laser
COIL (Chemical oxygen-iodine laser) 1.315 μm (<70% Atmospheric transmittance) Chemical reaction in a jet of singlet delta oxygen and iodine Laser weaponry, scientific and materials research, laser used in the U.S. military's Airborne laser, operated in continuous wave mode, can have power in the megawatt range.

Dye lasers

Main article: Dye laser
Laser gain medium and type Operation wavelength(s) Pump source Applications and notes
Dye lasers 390-435 nm (stilbene), 460-515 nm (coumarin 102), 570-640 nm (rhodamine 6G), many others Other laser, flashlamp Research, spectroscopy, birthmark removal, isotope separation. The tuning range of the laser depends on which dye is used.

Metal-vapor lasers

Laser gain medium and type Operation wavelength(s) Pump source Applications and notes
Helium-cadmium (HeCd) metal-vapor laser 441.563 nm, 325 nm Electrical discharge in metal vapor mixed with helium buffer gas. Printing and typesetting applications, fluorescence excitation examination (ie. in U.S. paper currency printing), scientific research.
Helium-mercury (HeHg) metal-vapor laser 567 nm, 615 nm Rare, scientific research, amateur laser construction.
Helium-selenium (HeSe) metal-vapor laser up to 24 wavelengths between red and UV Rare, scientific research, amateur laser construction.
Copper vapor laser 510.6 nm, 578.2 nm Electrical discharge Dermatological uses, high speed photography, pump for dye lasers.
Gold vapor laser 627 nm Rare, dermatological and photodynamic therapy uses.

Solid-state lasers

Main article: Solid-state laser
Laser gain medium and type Operation wavelength(s) Pump source Applications and notes
Ruby laser 694.3 nm Flashlamp Holography, tattoo removal. The first type of visible light laser invented; May 1960.
Nd:YAG laser 1.064 μm, (1.32 μm) Flashlamp, laser diode Material processing, rangefinding, laser target designation, surgery, research, pumping other lasers (combined with frequency doubling to produce a green 532 nm beam). One of the most common high power lasers. Usually pulsed (down to fractions of a nanosecond)
Er:YAG laser 2.94 μm Flashlamp, laser diode Periodontal scaling, Dentistry
Neodymium YLF (Nd:YLF) solid-state laser 1.047 and 1.053 μm Flashlamp, laser diode Mostly used for pulsed pumping of certain types of pulsed Ti:sapphire lasers, combined with frequency doubling.
Neodymium doped Yttrium orthovanadate (Nd:YVO4) laser 1.064 μm laser diode Mostly used for continuous pumping of mode-locked Ti:sapphire or dye lasers, in combination with frequency doubling. Also used pulsed for marking and micromachining.
Neodymium doped yttrium calcium oxoborate Nd:YCa4O(BO3)3 or simply Nd:YCOB ~1.060 μm (~530 nm at second harmonic) laser diode Nd:YCOB is a so called "self-frequency doubling" or SFD laser material which is both capable of lasing and which has nonlinear characteristics suitable for second harmonic generation. Such materials have the potential to simplify the design of high brightness green lasers.
Neodymium glass (Nd:Glass) laser ~1.062 μm (Silicate glasses), ~1.054 μm (Phosphate glasses) Flashlamp, laser diode Used in extremely high power (terawatt scale), high energy (megajoules) multiple beam systems for inertial confinement fusion. Nd:Glass lasers are usually frequency tripled to the third harmonic at 351 nm in laser fusion devices.
Titanium sapphire (Ti:sapphire) laser 650-1100 nm Other laser Spectroscopy, LIDAR, research. This material is often used in highly-tunable mode-locked infrared lasers to produce ultrashort pulses and in amplifier lasers to produce ultrashort and ultra-intense pulses.
Thulium YAG (Tm:YAG) laser 2.0 μm Laser diode LIDAR.
Ytterbium YAG (Yb:YAG) laser 1.03 μm Laser diode, flashlamp Optical refrigeration, materials processing, ultrashort pulse research, multiphoton microscopy, LIDAR.
Ytterbium doped glass laser (rod, plate/chip, and fiber) 1. μm Laser diode. Fiber version is capable of producing several-kilowatt continuous power, having ~70-80% optical-to-optical and ~25% electrical-to-optical efficiency. Material processing: cutting, welding, marking; nonlinear fiber optics: broadband fiber-nonlinearity based sources, pump for fiber Raman lasers; distributed Raman amplification pump for telecommunications.
Holmium YAG (Ho:YAG) laser 2.1 μm Laser diode Tissue ablation, kidney stone removal, dentistry.
Cerium doped lithium strontium(or calcium) aluminum fluoride (Ce:LiSAF, Ce:LiCAF) ~280 to 316 nm Frequency quadrupled Nd:YAG laser pumped, excimer laser pumped, copper vapor laser pumped. Remote atmospheric sensing, LIDAR, optics research.
Promethium 147 doped phosphate glass (147Pm+3:Glass) solid-state laser 933 nm, 1098 nm  ?? Laser material is radioactive. Once demonstrated in use at LLNL in 1987, room temperature 4 level lasing in 147Pm doped into a lead-indium-phosphate glass étalon.
Chromium doped chrysoberyl (alexandrite) laser Typically tuned in the range of 700 to 820 nm Flashlamp, laser diode, mercury arc (for CW mode operation) Dermatological uses, LIDAR, laser machining.
Erbium doped and erbium-ytterbium codoped glass lasers 1.53-1.56 μm Laser diode These are made in rod, plate/chip, and optical fiber form. Erbium doped fibers are commonly used as optical amplifiers for telecommunications.
Trivalent uranium doped calcium fluoride (U:CaF2) solid-state laser 2.5 μm Flashlamp First 4-level solid state laser (November 1960) developed by Peter Sorokin and Mirek Stevenson at IBM research labs, second laser invented overall (after Maiman's ruby laser), liquid helium cooled, unused today. [1]
Divalent samarium doped calcium fluoride (Sm:CaF2) laser 708.5 nm Flashlamp Also invented by Peter Sorokin and Mirek Stevenson at IBM research labs, early 1961. Liquid helium cooled, unused today. [2]
F-center laser. 2.3-3.3 μm Ion laser Spectroscopy

Semiconductor lasers

Main article: Laser diode
Laser gain medium and type Operation wavelength(s) Pump source Applications and notes
Semiconductor laser diode (general information) 0.4-20 μm, depending on active region material. Electrical current Telecommunications, holography, printing, weapons, machining, welding, pump sources for other lasers.
GaN 0.4 μm Optical discs.
AlGaAs 0.63-0.9 μm Optical discs, laser pointers, data communications. 780 nm Compact Disc player laser is the most common laser type in the world. Solid-state laser pumping, machining, medical.
InGaAsP 1.0-2.1 μm Telecommunications, solid-state laser pumping, machining, medical..
lead salt 3-20 μm
Vertical cavity surface emitting laser (VCSEL) 850 - 1500 nm, depending on material Telecommunications
Quantum cascade laser Mid-infrared to far-infrared. Research,Future applications may include collision-avoidance radar, industrial-process control and medical diagnostics such as breath analyzers.
Hybrid silicon laser Mid-infrared Research

Other types of lasers

Laser gain medium and type Operation wavelength(s) Pump source Applications and notes
Free electron laser A broad wavelength range (about 100 nm - several mm); one free electron laser may be tunable over a wavelength range relativistic electron beam atmospheric research, material science, medical applications.
"Nickel-like" Samarium laser X-rays at 7.3 nm wavelength Lasing in ultra-hot samarium plasma formed by double pulse terawatt scale irradiation fluences created by Rutherford Appleton Laboratory's Nd:glass Vulcan laser. [3] First demonstration of efficient "saturated" operation of a sub–10 nm X-ray laser, possible applications in high resolution microscopy and holography, operation is close to the "water window" at 2.2 to 4.4 nm where observation of DNA structure and the action of viruses and drugs on cells can be examined.
Raman laser, uses inelastic stimulated Raman scattering in a nonlinear media, mostly fiber, for amplification 1-2 μm for fiber version Other laser, mostly Yb-glass fiber lasers Complete 1-2 μm wavelength coverage; disitributed optical signal amplification for telecommunications; optical solitons generation and amplification
Nuclear pumped laser See gas lasers Nuclear fission Research

See also


An excellent introduction to many types of lasers is given in the book: Laser Fundamentals, by William T Silfvast Publisher: Cambridge University Press (May 31, 1996) ISBN-10: 0521556171 ISBN-13: 978-0521556170

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "List_of_laser_types". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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