The laser was only an idea on paper by Albert Einstein back in 1905 and has quickly become one of the most important technologies in society today.
The word “laser” is actually an acronym that means “light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation.” And as its meaning suggests, a laser is any device that emits a beam of light using electromagnetic radiation.
Lasers have many purposes. It’s hard to find a field not influenced by lasers. For example, they are used in healthcare, communication, security, the industrial sector, and even the beauty industry, to name a few. Thus, it’s not an overstatement to say that lasers are essential for society to function properly. Here are some ways in which lasers contribute significantly to the world:
One of the fields heavily influenced by lasers is healthcare. The size of a laser beam can be as thin as a hair strand. As a result, it is often used to treat tissues in the body because it can be very precise. For instance, lasers are used in an eye procedure called LASIK. In this process, a laser beam is used to reshape the tissue under the cornea to fix near-sightedness or far-sightedness.
They can also be used in eye examinations to determine optical problems and treat eye diseases to prevent blindness and improve vision.
Lasers also play a significant role in cancer treatment. By using certain types of laser, doctors can shrink or destroy tumours in the body. This device can also be used to activate a chemical called the photosensitizing agent in the body to kill cancer cells.
Information and Communication
Lasers also contribute to the way people communicate and transfer information. One example is fibre optics. The strands of glass fibres transfer large amounts of data through laser. And a recent discovery has shown that a type of laser called “terahertz quantum cascade lasers” is capable of send information at lightning-fast speeds compared to internet cables used today.
Lasers can also be used to decode information. For example, CD players use this technology to read information stored in CDs and DVDs. Laser is also used in several scanners. For instance, the machines that scan items at the checkout counter use laser to check their price. Or if someone comes to a store to pick up something they left for repair, a Zebra laser scanner can be used to read the barcodes of items to find which one is owned by that customer.
In the series The Big Bang Theory, there’s an episode where the characters play a game called “secret agent laser obstacle chess.” One player will go through a series of lasers and use an aerosol disinfectant spray to see them. The player must not touch any of the laser beams. Otherwise, they’ll make a sound, and the player is out of the game.
The way laser works in securing homes and businesses is quite similar. The laser takes the form of an infrared motion scanner. If someone moves into a beam of infrared light, they will trigger the security system, which will make a loud sound to indicate an intrusion. And this information will be sent to the owner. If they don’t respond (e.g. turn off the alarm remotely), the system will report the information to the police.
A YAG laser is a type of laser used for industrial cutting. Lasers are very thin, so they can be used to make precise cuts of different materials. These include steel, wood, fabric, paper, and ceramics. This technology can also be used to weld and mark materials.
Another area where laser contributes significantly is the beauty or cosmetics industry.
Laser cosmetic surgery is used to treat and remove sun damage, wrinkles, scars, and moles. It’s also used to remove tattoos, but not permanently. The laser simply makes the tattoo fade so that it’s not as noticeable.
Laser is also popularly used in hair removal and is widely preferred due to the painless procedure. The light from a laser is used to temporarily damage hair follicles under the skin. As a result, hair will not grow for a long period.
It’s amazing how a small beam of light can do so many things and help society in different ways. Laser can be used to heal people, connect them, keep them safe, give them self-esteem, and make things much easier to do. And with the rapid pace of technological development today, who knows what other amazing things lasers can do in the future?