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What Does LASER Stand For? The Interesting Answer!

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green laser

If you’ve been working with lasers for a long time, you probably already know that the term “laser” is an abbreviation. It stands for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation.

A laser is a useful, narrow light beam used in multiple instruments, such as flashlights, light bulbs, and many household tools. In the 60s, it was a cutting-edge technology used in large industries and high-end devices. Today, lasers are everywhere, including in homes, shopping malls, and offices.

Lasers are an interesting technology with a different working mechanism than ordinary light sources. So, let’s shed some light on it.

magnifying glass 2 divider The History of Lasers

The history of lasers takes us back to 1960 when Theodore H. Maiman built the first laser at Hughes Research Laboratories. The study was based on the work done by previous researchers Charles Hard Townes and Arthur Leonard Schawlow.

During this time, lasers were considered an innovative technology. It was primarily used in large industries by professionals under full-proof safety. However, it has become more common.

One of the notable cases of lasers in today’s digital world is the optical fibers used in telecommunications. For example, ethernet technology has evolved over the past few years from 2.94 megabytes per second (Mbps) speed to 100 Mbps.

An article by the Optical Society (OSA) in 2016 reported a team of researchers who managed to transmit 560 gigabytes per second (Gbps) of data over 2 kilometers through a single-mode optical fiber. This was quite impressive in industrial and commercial applications.

green laser light
Image Credit: Juergen Faelchle, Shutterstock

The Working Mechanism of Lasers

Light travels in the form of curves or waves. The distance from one wave peak to another is called the wavelength.

Lasers emit coherent light beams that are both spatial and temporal. Their working mechanism includes a coherent electromagnetic field with all the waves having the same frequency and wavelength.

A laser has a cavity, a chamber that reflects visible, ultraviolet, and infrared waves. Its length is in such a way that the waves reinforce each other. The cavity consists of any of the three states of matter: solid, liquid, or gas. The type of cavity material evaluates the output’s wavelength.

There are mirrors attached at both ends of the cavity. One of them is entirely reflective, preventing the energy from bypassing it. The other is semi-reflective, allowing only 5% of the energy to penetrate.

An electromagnetic field forms inside the cavity because of the pumping activity. It appears at the cavity material’s natural atom frequency. The waves keep reflecting back and forth between both mirrors.

These electromagnetic waves arise from the cavity’s end, which has a semi-reflective mirror. The result is a continuous beam or multiple short and powerful pulses.

Lasers vs. Typical Light Sources: What’s the Difference?

A light beam consists of different colors, each having varying wavelengths. For example, red light has a more elongated wavelength than blue light, while blue itself is longer than purple.

The sunlight and the light from a bulb have different colors and wavelengths. So, all these colors combine and give us white light. The laser works quite differently. It is not natural but artificial, man-made technology.

Lasers produce a narrow light beam consisting of multiple waves with similar wavelengths. These light waves move together, meaning their peaks are all lined up in one phase. This is why their beams are narrower, brighter, and more focused than ordinary lights.

The laser beam doesn’t spread everywhere like a flashlight. Thus, it can travel longer distances and concentrate heavy energy in one area, appearing as a dot. In fact, lasers can even penetrate the sky and can be seen from airplanes.

magnifying glass 1 divider The 3 Parameters to Characterize Lasers

When determining the use of lasers for particular applications, there are three general parameters to keep in mind. These include:

1. Power

hand holding green laser pointer
Image Credit: Cucu Andrei Adrian, Shutterstock

You can now easily find high-power lasers. They are beneficial for companies working with metal processing and military men. These professionals use lasers with double-digit kilowatt power to increase the yield and enhance the output.

2. Precision

The laser light beam must be focused on a small point for maximum precision. Fortunately, you can now get high-quality optics that help you focus down the light beam to a specific target. This refines and boosts the quality of goods manufactured in large industries.

The precision of lasers also makes them an excellent choice for medical experts.

3. Versatility

blue laser pointer
Image Credit: OlTarakanov, Shutterstock

Lasers come with different functions based on their spectral element. So, engineers, medical professionals, and other experts can use lasers of varying wavelengths to perform versatile functions.

Some other parameters to judge a laser include its energy per pulse and the beam quality. Always consider these factors to ensure you get the right type of laser.

magnifying glass 1 divider The Uses of Lasers

Lasers are an essential part of modern appliances and instruments. They are used in several industries, including telecommunications, precision tools, defense, clothing, research, and electronics.

Let’s have a look at the use cases of lasers in each industry:

red laser beam
Image Credit: donatas1205, Shutterstock


Laser technology is used in the following areas for enhanced communication:
  • Barcode Scanners. The grocery stores have barcode scanners that operate on the laser to read the barcodes printed on the products. These scanners convert the barcodes into numbers understandable for the computers at the checkout.
  • DVD Players and Recorders. Modern DVD players and recorders come with a semiconductor laser beam that converts the data pattern printed on the CDs or DVDs into numbers. Then, a built-in computer chip transforms these numbers into different music and digital media.
  • Laser Printers. New laser printer models use laser technology to give more precise and crisper results.
  • Fiber Optic Cables. Lasers are a part of fiber optic cables and photonics, a technology that uses photons in the light for communications. They are also used in carrying internet and TV signals.


The components of modern computers and electronic appliances include lasers. This cutting-edge technology makes the devices more functional, accessible, accurate, and easy to use.

blue, green and red laser beams
Image Credit By: nepool, Shutterstock


Laser-powered tools include:
  • CO2 Cutting Tools. Many industries use cutting tools powered by CO2 lasers. These tools are easily operated and offer preciseness. The best part is that these layers don’t require sharpening like ordinary knives. Laser-powered cutting tools can cut through thick metal and diamonds.
  • Robot-Guided Lasers. These lasers cut cloth in different designs used to make varying types of clothes. They eradicate the need for using bare hands in manufacturing clothes. The robot-guided lasers are quicker and more precise, enhancing productivity and efficiency.
  • Spectrometers help scientists determine what different objects are made of. For instance, the Curiosity rover utilized laser-infused spectrometers to figure out the types of chemicals in specific rocks on Mars.


The precise nature of the lasers is quite crucial in medicine. They help perform various surgeries for the accuracy they offer. For example, surgeons and professionals use lasers to eliminate cancerous tumors and treat defective eyesight.


Most military personnel use laser-powered weapons to achieve more accurate and powerful shots. Lasers are also used in different types of missiles and other high-end ammunition.

infrared laser thermometer in hand
Image Credit: nikkytok, Shutterstock

NASA Research

Over the years, NASA missions have benefitted from laser technology to study different types of matter in the Earth’s atmosphere, especially gasses. They also map the surfaces of various celestial objects, including planets, asteroids, and moons.

Because of lasers, scientists have also evaluated the distance between Earth and the moon. They did so by determining the time a laser beam takes to reach the moon and return.

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Final Thoughts

Laser is an acronym for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. The laser beam differs from ordinary light sources, such as flashlights and sunlight.

Unlike other light sources, the laser beam consists of waves with the same wavelength. As a result, it is narrower, brighter, and more precise than the light coming from a bulb. Because of these features, laser light can even travel to the sky, and you can see it from an airplane.

Today, lasers are used in medicine, defense, telecommunications, research, and multiple other industries.

You might be interested: What Is A Diode Laser? The Interesting Answer!

Featured Image Credit: SD-Pictures, Pixabay

About the Author Jeff Weishaupt

Jeff is a tech professional by day, writer, and amateur photographer by night. He's had the privilege of leading software teams for startups to the Fortune 100 over the past two decades. He currently works in the data privacy space. Jeff's amateur photography interests started in 2008 when he got his first DSLR camera, the Canon Rebel. Since then, he's taken tens of thousands of photos. His favorite handheld camera these days is his Google Pixel 6 XL. He loves taking photos of nature and his kids. In 2016, he bought his first drone, the Mavic Pro. Taking photos from the air is an amazing perspective, and he loves to take his drone while traveling.