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Understanding Lasers: An Entry-Level Guide, 3rd Edition

ISBN: 978-0-470-08890-6
496 pages
June 2008, ©2008, Wiley-IEEE Press
Understanding Lasers: An Entry-Level Guide, 3rd Edition (0470088907) cover image
Updated to reflect advancements since the publication of the previous edition, Understanding Lasers: An Entry-Level Guide, 3rd Edition is an introduction to lasers and associated equipment. You need only a minimal background in algebra to understand the nontechnical language in this book, which is a practical, easy-to-follow guide for beginners. By studying the conceptual drawings, tables, and multiple-choice quizzes with answers provided at the back of the book you can understand applications of semiconductor lasers, solid-state lasers, and gas lasers for information processing, medicine, communications, industry, and military systems.
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CHAPTER 1 Introduction and Overview.

1.1 The Idea of the Laser.

1.2 What is a Laser?

1.3 Laser Materials and Types.

1.4 Optical Properties of Laser Light.

1.5 How Lasers are Used.

1.6 What Have We Learned?

CHAPTER 2 Physical Basics.

2.1 Electromagnetic Waves and Photons.

2.2 Quantum and Classical Physics.

2.3 Interactions of Light and Matter.

2.4 Basic Optics and Simple Lenses.

2.5 What Have We Learned?

CHAPTER 3 How Lasers Work.

3.1 Building a Laser.

3.2 Producing a Population Inversion.

3.3 Resonant Cavities.

3.4 Laser Beams and Resonance.

3.5 Wavelength Selection and Tuning.

3.6 Laser Excitation Techniques.

3.7 What Have We Learned?

CHAPTER 4 Laser Characteristics.

4.1 Coherence.

4.2 Laser Wavelengths.

4.3 Behavior of Laser Beams.

4.4 Laser Power.

4.5 Laser Efficiency.

4.6 Duration of Emission.

4.7 Polarization.

4.8 What Have We Learned?

CHAPTER 5 Optics and Laser Accessories.

5.1 Classical Optical Devices.

5.2 Transparent Optical Materials.

5.3 Optical Surfaces, Coatings and Filters.

5.4 Nonlinear Optics.

5.5 Beam Intensity and Pulse Control.

5.6 Beam Direction and Propagation.

5.7 Mounting and Positioning Equipment.

5.8 Optical Measurement.

5.9 What Have We Learned?

CHAPTER 6 Types of Lasers.

6.1 Laser Oscillators and Optical Amplifiers.

6.2 Laser Media.

6.3 The Importance of Gain.

6.4 Broadband and Wavelength-Tunable Lasers.

6.5 Laser-Like Light Sources.

6.6 What Have We Learned?

CHAPTER 7 Gas Lasers.

7.1 The Gas Laser Family.

7.2 Gas-Laser Basics.

7.3 Helium-Neon Lasers.

7.4 Argon- and Krypton-Ion Lasers.

7.5 Metal-Vapor Lasers.

7.6 Carbon Dioxide Laser.

7.7 Excimer Lasers.

7.8 Chemical Lasers.

7.9 Other Gas Lasers.

7.10 What Have We Learned?

CHAPTER 8 Solid-State and Fiber Lasers.

8.1 What is a Solid-State Laser?

8.2 Solid-State Laser Materials.

8.3 Optical Pumping.

8.4 Ruby Lasers.

8.5 Neodymium Lasers.

8.6 Vibronic and Tunable Solid-State Lasers.

8.7 Erbium and Other Eye-Safe Laser.

8.8 Rare-Earth-Doped Fiber Lasers.

8.9 Rare-Earth-Doped Fiber Amplifiers.

8.10 Raman Fiber Lasers and Amplifiers.

8.11 What Have We Learned?

CHAPTER 9 Semiconductor Diode Lasers.

9.1 Basics of Semiconductor Diode Lasers.

9.2 Semiconductor Basics.

9.3 Light Emission at Junctions.

9.4 Layers and Confinement in Diode Lasers.

9.5 Confinement in the Junction Plane.

9.6 Edge-Emitting Diode Lasers.

9.7 Surface-Emitting Diode Lasers.

9.8 Quantum Wells and Dots.

9.9 Quantum Cascade Lasers.

9.10 Optical Properties of Diode Lasers.

9.11 Diode Laser Materials and Wavelengths.

9.12 Silicon Lasers.

9.13 Packaging and Specialization of Diode Lasers.

9.14 What Have We Learned?

CHAPTER 10 Other Lasers and Related Sources.

10.1 Tunable Dye Lasers.

10.2 Extreme-Ultraviolet Sources.

10.3 Free-Electron Lasers.

10.4 Silicon Lasers.

10.5 What Have We Learned?

CHAPTER 11 Low-Power Laser Applications.

11.1 Advantages of Laser Light.

11.2 Reading with Lasers.

11.3 Optical Disks and Data Storage.

11.4 Laser Printing and Marking.

11.5 Fiber-Optic Communications.

11.6 Laser Measurement.

11.7 Laser Pointers, Art, and Entertainment.

11.8 Low-Power Defense Applications.

11.9 Sensing and Spectroscopy.

11.10 Holography.

11.11 Other Low-Power Applications.

11.12 What Have We Learned?

CHAPTER 12 High-Power Laser Applications.

12.1 High- Versus Low-Power Laser Applications.

12.2 Attractions of High-Power Lasers.

12.3 Materials Working.

12.4 Electronics Manufacturing.

12.5 Three-Dimensional Modeling.

12.6 Laser Medical Treatment.

12.7 Photochemistry and Isotope Separation.

12.8 Laser-Driven Nuclear Fusion.

12.9 High-Energy Laser Weapons.

12.10 Futuristic High-Power Laser Ideas.

12.11 What Have We Learned?

CHAPTER 13 Lasers In Research.

13.1 Lasers Open New Opportunities.

13.2 Laser Spectroscopy.

13.3 Manipulating Tiny Objects.

13.4 Atom Lasers and Bose–Einstein Condensates.

13.5 Slow Light.

13.6 Nanoscale Lasers.

13.7 Petawatt Lasers.

13.8 Attosecond Pulses.

13.9 Laser Acceleration.

13.10 Other Emerging Research.

13.11 What We Have Learned.

Answers to Quiz Questions.

Appendix A: Laser Safety.

Appendix B: Handy Numbers and Formulas.

Appendix C: Resources and Suggested Readings.



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Jeff Hecht is a science and technology writer who has covered the laser industry for more than thirty years. He cofounded Lasers & Optronics magazine and has been a contributing editor to Laser Focus World since 1991, where he was also managing editor for seven years. He has been a Boston correspondent for New Scientist magazine since 1984 and is the author of eleven books. He has taught short courses on optics at SPIE, OSA, and IEEE LEOS conferences. He is a member of the IEEE, APS, OSA, and the National Association of Science Writers.
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Updated to reflect advancements in laser technology
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  • Written by a professional science writer to give readers an intuitive feel for lasers with a minimum of formal mathematics
  • Iillustrated with conceptual drawings and well-organized tables of information such as types of lasers, laser wavelengths, and detectors
  • Each chapter concludes with a multiple-choice quiz and the answers are provided at the end of the book
  • Key topics include: semiconductor lasers; solid-state lasers; gas lasers; and laser applications in information processing, medicine, communications, industry, and military systems.
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"This book is an easy-to-follow guide that requires a minimal background in algebra. The use of simple language, drawings, tables and multiple-choice quizzes make this book an ideal text for advanced high school students, undergraduates studying physics and engineering, and professionals who work with lasers but lack a formal knowledge of the subject." (Optics & Photonic News, April 2009)

"College-level libraries strong in science and technology titles will appreciate this easy introduction guide to laser technology, which moves from the foundations of how lasers work and how they are used to discussions of specific advanced laser types, applications, and the science involved." (The Midwest Book Review, September 2008)

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