The argon laser is a unique gas laser, as it uses a noble gas (argon) as the active medium. It is commonly referred to as argon ion laser. It was invented by William Bridges at the Hughes Aircraft Labs in the year 1964. This laser uses argon gas in the ionised state (Ar+) as the lasing medium. It is a vital member of the noble gas laser family as it is capable of generating a large number of discrete lines having wavelengths that range from the UV region (275.4 nm) to near infrared region (752 nm).
The principal components of the argon laser system are power supply, plasma tube and resonator assembly. The plasma tube is the heart of the laser system; it consists of a bore made of BeO which is capable of withstanding very high temperatures and maintaining complete vacuum seal at the same time. The resonator assembly consists of two mirrors placed at each end of the bore, such that they are perpendicular to the length of the bore. The power supply of the laser system should supply the initial trigger pulse for initiating the plasma discharge and later for maintaining steady discharge.
The applications of argon laser are mainly in the medical field as it is capable of targeting the area with great precision. They are used in retinal phototherapy, lithography and pumping. Apart from medical applications argon lasers are used in scientific, research, commercial and educational fields. There have been numerous advancements in the field of lasers, but argon laser will remain a reliable and predictable laser light source. A special attention needs to be given to safety while handling the argon laser. Eye protection is most important, safety goggles must be worn while working with this laser.
Argon Ion lasers are primarily used in a number of medical treatments. Due to their precision in targeting the area, the argon ion laser is used in ophthalmic surgeries such as treating glaucoma and other diabetic eye disease through retinal phototherapy. In dermatology it is used in treating ulcers, lesions and polyps. It is also used in photocoagulation.
Some of the other applications of the argon ion laser are as below:-
- Forensic medicine
- Holography and optical pumping source
- Raman spectroscopy and microscopy
- Laser shows in entertainment
- High speed printing
- Fiber Bragg Grating production