Optics 101

Gas and Chemical Lasers - Introduction and Applications of Gas and Chemical Lasers

The type of laser is governed by the laser or gain medium. The laser medium can be either solid, liquid, or gas. It can also be a semiconductor.

Gas Lasers - Introduction
Helium-Neon Gas Laser
Carbon Dioxide or CO2 Gas Laser
Argon-Ion Laser
Chemical Lasers - Introduction
Hydrogen Fluoride/Deuterium Fluoride Chemical Laser
Chemical Oxygen Iodine Laser

Gas Lasers - Introduction

They are one of the oldest types of laser and have been used for many purposes. Many types of gases have been used to build gas lasers. Here are some of the examples of gases used to build gas lasers:

  • Helium-Neon
  • Carbon Dioxide or CO2
  • Argon-Ion

Helium-Neon Gas Laser

It is one of the most common gas lasers. It is also commonly used in the educational section due to its inexpensiveness. Helium-neon gas laser is usually built operating in the red with wavelength of 633 nm. They can also be built to operate in the green and infrared with wavelengths of 544 nm and 1523 nm, respectively.

Carbon Dioxide or CO2 Gas Laser

It is one of the most efficient lasers and is used in industries such as in welding and cutting. The CO2 gas laser operates at numerous infrared frequencies and do not operate in the visible frequency. The efficiency of a CO2 gas laser is said to be more than 30%. It also has the capability of producing tens and hundreds of kilowatts of continuous output power. The CO2 gas laser also has the ability of pulse operations under extremely high power.

Argon-Ion Gas Laser

Argon-ion gas laser is capable of operating at about twenty five different wavelengths and as a continuous gas laser. The wavelength ranges from 409 to 686 nm in the visible region. However, argon-ion gas lasers are best known to operate in the green with wavelengths of 488 nm and 514.5 nm, which are its most efficient transitions. Argon-ion lasers works at a much higher power than the helium-neon gas laser.

Argon lasers are used for retinal phototherapy (for diabetes), lithography, and pumping other lasers.

Chemical Lasers - Introduction

Chemical lasers are devices that are powered by a chemical reaction. It is also capable of achieving high powers in continuous operation. Two types of chemical lasers has been developed:

  • Hydrogen Fluoride/Deuterium Fluoride Laser
  • Chemical Oxygen Iodine Laser

Hydrogen Fluoride/Deuterium Fluoride Chemical Laser

In the hydrogen fluoride/deuterium fluoride chemical laser, a combustor is used to manufacture the fluorine atoms. The fluorine atoms are then accelerated into the laser cavity through supersonic nozzles. The fluorine atoms are mixed and reacted with the H2 and D2 under low pressure and low temperature environments to form excited states of HF and DF.

Hydrogen fluoride lasers operate in the wavelengths of 2700 to 2900 nm, while Deuterium fluoride lasers operate in the wavelengths of 3800 nm. Deuterium fluoride lasers are mainly used for military applications.

Chemical Oxygen Iodine Laser

The chemical oxygen iodine laser (COIL) is produced by the reaction of liquid basic hydrogen peroxide with chlorine gas. The resulting product is an electronically excited oxygen molecule in the gaseous phase. This energy of the excited oxygen molecule is then transferred to the iodine atoms to emit radiation at wavelength of 1.315 microns.

COIL laser was developed for military purposes. It is also useful in industrial processing applications such as laser cutting and drilling.

Source: AZoOptics

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