When we think about lasers, you probably immediately get an image of the types of lasers that people point up into the sky and make pretty light shows with, or otherwise the immense laser shows that serve to light up the night and make incredible effects and images. However, lasers weren’t always this advanced, and at some point in time, the first ever laser in the world had to be developed to allow for the modern laser that we know and love today to also be created.
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The Early Days of the Laser
The days of the laser began with the formula of the principles that were required to be understood behind laser technologies. Indeed, without knowing the principles and logic, there would be no way that the scientific community could create the worlds first ever lasers.
This began in 1917 with the mastermind that was Albert Einstein researching the topic, and his research might lead on to additional research being carried out regarding the topic. Continued research and further experimentation in the years which followed Einstein’s early discoveries would then lead on to the maturation of the concept behind optical pumping, and this optical pumping technology is one which is used to this day in modern lasers. Indeed, Einstein’s research and the research of his later peers made the early days of laser development possible, and this would serve to be critical, ending with the eventual creation of the laser we know and love today.
Modern Laser Development
Following the creation of the maser in the late 20th century it come the growth and establishment of the world’s first laser that can genuinely be considered as such by modern standards. The very first infrared laser research was completed in 1957 by two researchers by the names of Townes and Schawlow, and this research was subsequently followed up by Bell Labs who invested more energy on the prospect of creating such an infrared technology. But, infrared light waves were soon abandoned and emphasis was instead put on controlling visible light waves, rather; the very first style of laser, which has widely been referred to as the ‘maser’, was created because of this change in goal.
However, what happened next? A young researcher and physicist, a graduate student from Columbia University at the time, by the name of Gordon Gould had been conducting his own research to the topic and formulating his own theories. He worked together closely with Townes, who had worked on the maser development, to be able to develop the theories in order to create a prototype of his own unique "laser" version, which would be the first model which made use of an open resonator—an important component of modern designs, too.