AEP110_notes_pt1 - AEP 110 Lecture Notes Alex Gaeta What is...

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1 AEP 110 Lecture Notes Alex Gaeta 10/ 18 /0 7 What is a laser? It’s an acronym. L ight A mplification by S timulated E mission of R adiation Actually as we will see, this does not tell the full story. A laser is a device that produces a light beam that is typically highly directional and bright as compared to other light sources. Light wave oscillates ~ 10 15 times/sec From the lectures and the labs we will investigate what goes on inside the “black box” and as well as the properties of the emitted light wave. A few years after the laser was invented, a panel composed of scientists convened to project the future of the laser. They concluded that the laser would not amount to any commercial importance and that it would primarily be used in basic research. Today it is a $6B industry that pervades our lives. Black Box
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2 What are some of the applications? Information Material Processing Measurement, Sensing, & Instrumentation telecommunications cutting, welding biomedical (e.g. DNA Sequencing) storage (e.g. CD’s) annealing, drilling Chemical sensing (e.g. pollution monitoring) bar-code scanners rapid prototyping lidar laser printers marking of all materials surveying medicine (scalpel) nondestructive Testing refractive eye surgery atomic clocks Lasers come in all shapes and sizes. Diode lasers ~ as small as 100 μ m 3 . NOVA laser (for fusion experiments at Lawrence Livermore Labs): need a good-sized building Lasers can be continuous-wave (always on) or pulsed. Pulsed lasers can produce powers as high as a petawatt (10 15 Watts). The whole system fits on only a few optical tables. The total world output at any one time is ~ 10 terawatts (10 12 Watts). Light pulses as short as 5 femtoseconds (10 -15 secs) can be generated. Single-atom lasers! Basic schematic of a laser: beam output mirror mirror gain
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3 Light Waves (p. 21-30) There are three different ways of looking at light. The most useful way depends on the situation. 1) Light rays – useful for looking at the behavior of light though optical systems (e.g. lenses, mirrors, etc.) Geometrical Optics lens 2) Light waves – useful for understanding diffraction and interference effects Physical Optics 3) Photons – useful for understanding certain light-matter interactions Quantum Optics atom Despite the attention that the concept of the photon has attracted, there are really very few instances, particularly for technological applications, where thinking of light as a photon is useful. For our immediate goal of understanding the workings of a laser and the properties of a laser beam, we will focus our attention on the wave properties of light. Q: How do we know light is a wave, even if we do not see it oscillating? photon
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4 A: In countless experiments, it behaves just like other types of waves that we can see (e.g. water) For example, consider double-slit experiment.
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