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A laser is a device that produces a special type of light: all the laser photons are identical! They all have the same wavelength (and frequency), amplitude and phase. Since they all have the same wavelength, this means they all have the same colour and the light is called monochromatic . ( Note: mono means "one" or "single" and chromatic means "colour".) This is very different to most other light sources which produce light with a range of wavelengths (e.g. white light from the sun consists of all the visible wavelengths.)

Laser light is highly directional and can be focused very well. This focus allows laser beams to be used over long distances, and to pack a lot of energy into the beam while still requiring reasonably small amounts of energy to be generated. Each centimetre of a typical laser beam contains many billions of photons. These special properties of laser light come from the way in which the laser photons are created and the energy levels of the material that makes up the laser. These properties make laser light extremely useful in many applications from CD players to eye surgery.

The term LASER stands for L ight A mplification by the S timulated E mission of R adiation. This stimulated emission is different to the spontaneous emission already discussed earlier. Let's review the absorption and emission processes which can occur in atoms.

  • Absorption : As you can see in the picture above, absorption happens when an electron jumps up to a higher energy level by absorbing a photon which has an energy equal to the energy difference between the two energy levels.
  • Spontaneous emission : Spontaneous emission is when an electron in a higher energy level drops down to a lower energy level and a photon is emitted with an energy equal to the energy difference between the two levels. There is no interference in this process from outside factors. Usually spontaneous emission happens very quickly after an electron gets into an excited state. In other words, the lifetime of the excited state is very short (the electron only stays in the high energy level for a very short time). However, there are some excited states where an electron can remain in the higher energy level for a longer time than usual before dropping down to a lower level. These excited states are called metastable states.
  • Stimulated emission : As the picture above shows, stimulated emission happens when a photon with an energy equal to the energy difference between two levels interacts with an electron in the higher level. This stimulates the electron to emit an identical photon and drop down to the lower energy level. This process results in two photons at the end.
Spontaneous Emission

Spontaneous emission occurs when an atom is in an unstable excited state and randomly decays to a less energetic state, emitting a photon to carry off the excess energy. The unstable state decays in a characteristic time, called the lifetime.

Meta-stable state

A meta-stable state is an excited atomic state that has an unusually long lifetime, compared to the lifetimes of other excited states of that atom. While most excited states have lifetimes measured in microseconds and nanoseconds ( 10 - 6 s and 10 - 9 s), meta-stable states can have lifetimes of milliseconds ( 10 - 3 s) or even seconds.

Questions & Answers

hi please help me how to balance redox reactions?
Brian Reply
Which equation do u wanna balance
i tried to write it but my phone just can't write it Cr2 O72-(aq) + H2S (aq) Cr3 (aq) + S(s)
show is the equation
hello. what is the difference between a primary, secondary and tertiary alcohol
Thokozani Reply
primary the C=bonded to 1 Carbon atom.... secondary=bonded to 2 carbon atoms tertiary=bonded to 3 carbon atoms
I hope you're answered
thanks Christina
My pleasure
Thank you Christina. This is very helpful 😀👍👍💯
Anytime Thokozani
How to calculate pH?
thank you guys i didn't know about the primary, secondary and tertiary alcohols
thank you Christina
Hey guys which topic does AC nd DC generator falls
thank you
can somebody help me with functional isomers
Baningi Reply
function isomer has the same molecular formula but different functional group
what's momentum
Luvelo Reply
the product of an objects mass times velocity. it is mainly prevalent in collisions.
Methane contains C and H. This compound is
Juan Reply
ketones's functional group
Moloi Reply
Why does the carboxyl group have acidc properties?
Evi Reply
carboxylic acids
Besides improving appearance what is another reason why medal is electro plated
Elizabeth Reply
it is made of metal
what is different between Dependent variable and independent variables
difference between A.c and D.c
AC has slip rings DC has split rings commutator
to avoid rust and to improve strength and conductivity
the variable whose value doesn't depend on other is known as independent variable ex time
are UV rays dangerous?
Khathutshelo Reply
what's this?
if there is extensive exposure, it can lead to skin cancer
yes depend upon their intensity
i hv a problem with this chapter because i also have problem with Newton's laws of motion
Kearabetswe Reply
I have a problem with calculation in Newton's law of motion
me also VuyokAzi
what's the question
Which area in particular?
just get the hang if free body diagrams,know the directions.
I know how to draw free diagram I have a problem with calculation in second law
what is the wave model of atom ?
Trazy Reply
guys what is momentum
@Luvelo... Momentum is the product of an object's mass and its velocity.
the model based on wave nature of electron
Can you state the Doppler effect in words
Nombuyiselo Reply
State Coulomb's law in words
the magnitude of the electrostatic force exerted point on each other is directly proportional to the product on magnitude of charges and inversely proportional to the square distance between them
the change in frequency of the sound detected by a listener because sound source and listener have different velocity
Newton's first law of motion
Nnuso Reply
When an object is at rest or traveling at a constant velocity it will remain at rest unless an unbalanced force acts upon it.
yes that's true
Always know Newton's second law of motion. It appears to be in every question paper
Is the normal force always 0
Mpilo Reply
no. newtons 3rd law states that if something exerts a force into something else it will experience that same magnitude of force but in the opposite direction. so the net force is equal to the force the object applies to the surface but in the opposite direction
define the term rate of reaction in word
David Reply
I think it a chemical process in which substance act mutually on each other.
how many bones are in the human body?
it's the rate at which the reactants are able to change to products
206 bones

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Source:  OpenStax, Siyavula textbooks: grade 12 physical science. OpenStax CNX. Aug 03, 2011 Download for free at http://cnx.org/content/col11244/1.2
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