THE LASER TURNS 50



FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

Contact:
Lyndsay Meyer
The Optical Society
+1.202.416.1435
lmeyer@osa.org

Nadine Tosk
NDTosk Communications
847.920.9858
nadinepr@gmail.com

THE LASER TURNS 50

Science Community Celebrates May 16 Anniversary of Ubiquitous, Transformative Technology

WASHINGTON, May 13—ThisSunday, May 16, the scientific community will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the laser—an invention that began as a scientific curiosity, but which has transformed into one of the most influential technological developments in human history.

“The laser has brought countless benefits to society in science, medicine, communications, industrial technology, and space, among others,” says Elizabeth Rogan, CEO of the Optical Society (OSA), one of four scientific groups that founded LaserFest, a year-long initiative created to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the first working laser and educate the broader public about the laser’s benefits.

On May 16, LaserFest hosts a special symposium titled “Retrospectives on the Invention of the Laser,” at CLEO/QELS, the leading annual scientific meeting on lasers and electro-optics. Among the laser pioneers and experts who will speak at the San Jose, Calif. event are Charles Townes, who won the Nobel Prize in 1964 for conceptualizing the maser, the precursor to the laser, and Kathleen Maiman, whose late husband, Theodore Maiman, demonstrated the first working laser at Hughes Research Labs on May 16, 1960.

“Laser” is an acronym for “Light Amplification of Stimulated Emission of Radiation”.  A flash-lamp in Maiman’s early device delivered photons of light to a ruby crystal, exciting electrons in the crystal’s chromium atoms to a higher energy level. As the electrons began returning to their original energy level, they stimulated other excited chromium atoms to release their energy, all at the same deep red wavelength. Mirrors at the ends of the ruby rod formed the cascade of photons into a bright beam of red light, which lasted as long as the flash-lamp pulse.

Since then, lasers have taken many forms.  Some, like laser printers, laser eye surgery and laser light shows are ubiquitous and widely taken for granted.  Others, like fiber lasers that perform tasks as wide-ranging as transmitting telecommunications signals and cutting granite, are largely hidden from view.  Indeed, though laser innovations continue to produce new patents at nearly the same rate as the computer, its reach may not be as widely appreciated.  Phone calls, package delivery, watching movies, sorting waste for recycling—nearly every aspect of modern life directly or indirectly involves a laser.

“We feel it’s our responsibility to make sure the public understands the fundamental role lasers continue to play in the world’s scientific, technological and commercial progress,” says Rogan. “We hope that increased recognition of the laser’s significance will not only maintain public funding for laser research, but also attract our best young students to science and engineering careers.  The laser is, in many respects, a mature technology, but with tremendous opportunities to grow.  There is an exciting future for the laser in areas like cancer diagnostics and alternative energy generation that we can all look forward to.”

In the coming years, many scientists expect laser-based innovations to revolutionize the following fields:

  • Eye surgery, where ultra-short-pulse lasers called femto-lasers are making cataract surgery simpler and far less dependent on a surgeon’s hand coordination.
  • Cardiology, where laser-based optical coherence tomography will enable physicians to more accurately prescribe drugs or artery-opening stents.
  • Medical diagnostics, where individuals can have their entire personal genome sequenced in less than a day and their susceptibility to specific diseases analyzed.
  • Data communications, where replacing wires with lasers in transistors will allow data transfer fast enough to download an entire movie in less than 30 seconds.
  • Criminal forensics, where new laser-based techniques match materials linking criminals to the scene of the crime.
  • Defense, where new high-powered lasers heat the ground around landmines and IEDs, thus detonating them at a safe distance.
  • Basic research, where laser techniques permit scientists to see molecules smaller than a wavelength of light interact.

 

“Even more laser breakthroughs like these lie in our future,” says Rogan. “With LaserFest, we are striving to create maximum interest and support among numerous communities, including the general public, government entities, academia and industry, to make them a reality sooner.”

Events hosted by LaserFest partners and sponsors are taking place throughout 2010.  See the LaserFest website (www.LaserFest.org) for more information.

About LaserFest

LaserFest, a celebration of the 50th anniversary of the laser, emphasizes the laser's impact throughout history and highlights its potential for the future. Through a series of events and programs, LaserFest showcases the prominence of the laser in today's world. Founding Partners of LaserFest are the Optical Society (OSA), the American Physical Society (APS), SPIE, and the IEEE Photonics Society. For more information, visit http://www.LaserFest.org.

###


Share:
Keyword
Topics

Moisture-Responsive ‘Robots’ Crawl with No External Power Source

26 June 2017   Moisture-Responsive ‘Robots’ Crawl with No External Power Source   Created using only a camera flash and graphene oxide, smart materials move in response to changes in humidity   WASHINGTON — Using an off-the-shelf camera flash, researchers turned an ordinary sheet of graphene oxide into a material that bends when exposed to moisture...

Added: 26 Jun 2017


OSA to Host an Incubator Meeting on Materials for Optomechanical Actuation

OSA to Host an Incubator Meeting on Materials for Optomechanical Actuation  Collaborative forum for problem-solving optomechanical materials challengesWASHINGTON – The Optical Society (OSA) will host the Materials for Optomechanical Actuation Incubator 25-27 June at OSA’s Washington, D.C. offices. This Incubator brings together experts from academia and industry, as well as...

Added: 25 Jun 2017


New Screen Coating Makes Reading in Sunlight a Lot Easier. The Secret? Moth Eyes.

22 June 2017   New Screen Coating Makes Reading in Sunlight a Lot Easier. The Secret? Moth Eyes.   Nature-inspired film is scratch resistant, self-cleaning and could be used on flexible displays   WASHINGTON — Screens on even the newest phones and tablets can be hard to read outside in bright sunlight. Inspired by the nanostructures found on moth eyes, researchers...

Added: 22 Jun 2017


New 3D Display Takes the Eye Fatigue Out of Virtual Reality

21 June 2017  New 3D Display Takes the Eye Fatigue Out of Virtual Reality   Innovative technology mimics the depth cues our eyes are accustomed to in the real-world   WASHINGTON — There is a great deal of excitement around virtual reality (VR) headsets that display a computer-simulated world and augmented reality (AR) glasses that overlay computer-generated...

Added: 21 Jun 2017


The Optical Society Planning Member Activities and Events during LASER World of Photonics 2017

19 June 2017   The Optical Society Planning Member Activities and Events during LASER World of Photonics 2017   WASHINGTON — The Optical Society (OSA), the leading professional association in optics and photonics, will host a variety of special events during LASER World of Photonics Congress in Munich, Germany from 25-29 June. OSA is a co-sponsor of both CLEO/Europe –...

Added: 19 Jun 2017


Integrated Semiconductor Quantum Photonic Devices Incubator

16 June 2017  Integrated Semiconductor Quantum Photonic Devices IncubatorIdentify challenges, forge collaborative networks and generate funding and accessibility strategies WASHINGTON – The Optical Society (OSA) will host an Integrated Semiconductor Quantum Photonic Devices Incubator meeting 18-20 June at OSA’s Washington, D.C. offices. This Incubator will combine the...

Added: 16 Jun 2017


Researchers Discover Short-Cut to Satellite-Based Quantum Encryption Network

15 June 2017   Researchers Discover Short-Cut to Satellite-Based Quantum Encryption Network   Precise Earth-based measurements of optical signals from satellite show that equipment already in space can be adapted for extremely secure data encryption   WASHINGTON — In a new study, researchers demonstrate ground-based measurements of quantum states sent by a laser...

Added: 15 Jun 2017


Optics Express Celebrates 20 Years of Innovative Research and Scientific Impact

12 June 2017   Optics Express Celebrates 20 Years of Innovative Research and Scientific ImpactFirst-of-its-kind, all-electronic and freely accessible content “experiment” has played an influential role in shaping the evolution of scientific publishing  WASHINGTON – The Optical Society (OSA) is celebrating 20 years of its bold experiment—the rapid publication...

Added: 12 Jun 2017


Monovision Proves Shortsighted in the Search to Solve Virtual Reality’s Known Side Effects

7 June 2017  Monovision Proves Shortsighted in the Search to Solve Virtual Reality’s Known Side EffectsNew research from Stanford University puts numbers to the ocular focusing responses of people watching virtual reality; revealing that a simple fix may not prevent a common headache-inducing effect SAN FRANCISCO – Whether through a helicopter ride over the Antarctic or a...

Added: 07 Jun 2017


International OSA Network of Students Celebrates 10 Years of Bringing Young Professionals Together

7 June 2017   International OSA Network of Students Celebrates 10 Years of Bringing Young Professionals Together WASHINGTON – For the past decade, The Optical Society (OSA) has supported and sponsored the International Network of Students Program (IONS), which encourages student chapters to organize meetings and fosters leadership and collaboration among optics and photonics...

Added: 06 Jun 2017


OSA, MRS and SPIE Announce 2017-2018 Congressional Science and Engineering Fellows

5 June 2017   The Optical Society, Materials Research Society and SPIE Announce 2017-2018 Congressional Science and Engineering Fellows WASHINGTON — The Optical Society (OSA), the Materials Research Society (MRS) and SPIE, the international society for optics and photonics, are pleased to announce the selection of Tanya Das and Sarah Vorpahl as the 2017-2018 Congressional Fellows....

Added: 05 Jun 2017


The Optical Society Congratulates the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO)

2 June 2017   The Optical Society Congratulates the Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) and the Detection of a new Population of Black HolesAdvanced Optical Interferometers Discover a Black Hole with a Solar Mass of 49 Times that of the Sun   WASHINGTON — Astrophysicists have long sought to detect ripples in space-time called gravitational waves since...

Added: 02 Jun 2017