how does a laser work

How does a laser work?

Laser basics

The following video in an overview of the basic operating principle and structure of a laser machine.

The term "Laser"

The term "laser" stands for "Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation," which is, in a nutshell, how lasers work. Light particles (called photons) are excited with current causing them to emit energy in the form of light. This light forms the laser beam.

Laser anatomy 101

Laser technology basics

Lasers consist of three components:

1. An external pump source. This component guides external energy to the laser.

2. The active laser medium. The active laser medium is located on the inside of the laser. Depending on the design, the laser medium can consist of a gas mixture (CO2 laser), of a crystal body (YAG laser) or glass fibers (fiber laser). When energy is fed to the laser medium through the pump, it emits energy in the form of radiation.

3. The resonator. The active laser medium is located between two mirrors, the "resonator." One of these mirrors is a one-way mirror. The radiation of the active laser medium is amplified in the resonator. At the same time, only a certain radiation can leave the resonator through the one-way mirror. This bundled radiation is the laser radiation.

Fundamental properties of lasers

Laser radiation has three fundamental properties:

  1. Monochromatic. This means that the radiation consists of only one wavelength.
  2. High coherence and thereby phase coincidence.
  3. The waves of the laser are approximately parallel due to the coherence.

These fundamental properties make it possible to use laser light in many areas of modern material processing. The intensity is preserved for a long time due to the coherence and can be bundled even further through lenses. The laser beam impinges on the material surface and is absorbed, causing it to heat the material. The heat causes the material to be removed, changed or completely evaporated. 

Further information regarding laser engraving, cutting and marking

How does engraving, cutting and marking with a laser work? We show you in these videos