SINCLAIR STAMMERS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY SINCLAIR STAMMERS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Ruby laser crystal. A ruby crystal synthesized for use in a laser ("light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation"). A radiation source is used to stimulate unstable chromium ions in the crystal lattice to emit light at the same frequency as the source. This produces an amplified beam of intense monochromatic coherent radiation, red light in the case of ruby lasers. Ruby laser crystals have been used for industrial cutting and drilling and as surgical tools, particularly in ophthalmology for treating detached retinas. The first laser to be developed was a ruby laser.
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