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Ruby laser

  A ruby laser is a solid-state laser that uses a synthetic ruby crystal as its gain medium. It was the first type of laser invented, and was first operated by Theodore H. "Ted" Maiman[1] at Hughes Research Laboratories on 1960-05-16[2].

Additional recommended knowledge

The ruby laser produces pulses of visible light at a wavelength of 694.3 nm, which appears as deep red to human eyes. Typical ruby laser pulse lengths are on the order of a millisecond. These short pulses of red light are visible to the human eye, if the viewer carefully watches the target area where the pulse will fire.


Ruby lasers have declined in use with the discovery of better lasing media. They are still used in a number of applications where short pulses of red light are required. Holographers around the world produce holographic portraits with ruby lasers, in sizes up to a metre squared. The red 694 nm laser light is preferred to the 532 nm green light of frequency-doubled Nd:YAG.[citation needed] Many non-destructive testing labs use ruby lasers to create holograms of large objects such as aircraft tires to look for weaknesses in the lining. Ruby lasers were used extensively in tattoo and hair removal, but are being replaced by alexandrite lasers and Nd:YAG lasers in this application.


See also: Laser construction

The ruby laser is a three level solid state laser. The active laser medium (laser gain/amplification medium) is a synthetic ruby rod that is energized through optical pumping, typically by a xenon flash lamp. In early examples, the rod's ends had to be polished with great precision, such that the ends of the rod were flat to within a quarter of a wavelength of the output light, and parallel to each other within a few seconds of arc. The finely polished ends of the rod were silvered: one end completely, the other only partially. The rod with its reflective ends then acts as a Fabry-Pérot etalon (or a Gires-Tournois etalon). Modern lasers often instead use rods with ends cut and polished at Brewster's angle to avoid reflections, with external dielectric mirrors forming the optical cavity. Curved mirrors are typically used to relax the alignment tolerances.


  1. ^ Maiman, T.H. (1960) "Stimulated Optical Radiation in Ruby". Nature, 187 4736, pp. 493-494.
  2. ^ Laser inventor Maiman dies; tribute to be held on anniversary of first laser. Laser Focus World (2007-05-09). Retrieved on 2007-05-14.
This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Ruby_laser". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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