September 16, 2010 Issue

Physics To Go 105 - Fiber laser

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Physics in Your World

Laser Applications image
image credit: LVD Company n.v.; image source; larger image

Laser Applications

This laser cutting machine can cut metal up to 16 mm thick. Laser cutting is just one of many laser applications--lasers can cool atoms, bring stars into focus, and transmit information. To learn about many more applications, see this Hyperphysics webpage.

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Physics at Home

The Physics Classroom: Refraction of Light

Use this simulation to explore how light waves bend when they go from one medium into another, like from air into water.


From Physics Research

The Physics Classroom: Total Internal Reflection image
Image used with the consent of Agilent Laboratories; image source; larger image

The Physics Classroom: Total Internal Reflection

The optical fiber in the photo above doesn't just guide the beam--the fiber produces the beam. Instead of a tube of helium and neon gas, or a piece of ruby, the "active medium" of this laser is added to the glass in the fiber. Since the mirrors are just the polished ends of the fiber, there is nothing to go out of alignment, and maintenance is easy.

- Fiber lasers are using laser cutting.
- To find out how the fiber optic laser promises to fuse the technologies of transistors and fiber optics, see this Penn State page. Also, here's another image of a fiber laser.
- To see how the fiber contains a laser beam, visit The Physics Classroom: Total Internal Reflection.

Worth a Look

PhysicsCentral: Do You See What Eye See?

Laser surgery of the eye, more popularly known as LASIK, is an important use of lasers in medicine. See PhysicsCentral: Do You See What Eye See? to learn how it's done.

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