The History of Lasers

Posted by on May 25, 2021

History of Lasers

GLT has been utilizing lasers to create optical patterns, cut films and plastics, and create quick turn prototypes. This had us thinking about how lasers progressed to the point of being used in optical lightguides…
Timeline – Development of Lasers and Technology

1917 – Albert Einstein provided the theoretical groundwork for a maser (microwave amplification by stimulated emission of radiation) and laser (Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation) in the Quantum Theory of Radiation.

1952 – First Maser – A device that produces coherent electromagnetic waves through amplified stimulation, work was done independently on the creation of these machines by Charles Hard Townes, James P. Gordon and Herbert J. Zeiger and Nikolay Basov and Aleksandr Prokhorov in the Soviet Union. By outputting coherent beams of only one wavelength, waves would be more directed and stay tighter over a longer distance.

1957 – First investigation into a laser – Charles Hard Townes and Arthur Leonard Schawlow started creating a maser that worked with infrared radiation, but switched focus to the visible light spectrum.

1960 – First functional laser – Theodore H. Maiman created the first functional laser using a flashlamp-pumped synthetic ruby crystal to produce red laser light at 694 nanometers wavelength. In the same year, Ali Javan, and William R. Bennett, and Donald Herriott constructed the first gas laser (using neon and helium), also the first that was capable of continuous operation.

1963 – First CO2 laser- Less costly and more efficient than ruby lasers, and extremely common type of laser for cutting today.

1967 – First gas-assisted laser cut- After some use in mining and drilling, the first uses of lasers as a cutting tool were established.

1969 – Boeing becomes the first company to use a laser in industry.  Three Boeing employees wrote a paper discussing the capabilities of using lasers to cut “hard” materials, such as titanium, hastelloy, and ceramic. Soon after, Boeing adapted lasers into their regular production.

1980s – Widespread industrial use, roughly 20,000 laser cutting machines have been installed in manufacturing plants.

2000s – GLT begins using laser technology for cutting of films and prototype lightguides.

Present – GLT continuously improves – As laser technology has improved GLT has used lasers throughout our design and manufacturing processes.  These uses include creation optical patterns and features in tooling and on prototype product, cutting of films used in our assemblies, removal of gates from injection molded product, and even cutting of our light guides within our extruded light guide manufacturing.  We continue to implement the latest laser technologies available to improve our products.

We bet you have a bright idea.

Let’s see how GLT can help make it a reality.

For even more information about GLT, view our company presentation at the link below.