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RUSSELL KIGHTLEY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY RUSSELL KIGHTLEY / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY
Laser photon emission. Animation of the atomic basis of the production of photons to form a laser beam. Laser stands for light amplification by the stimulated emission of radiation. The animation shows three atoms being stimulated by an energy source (zig-zag line). This causes electrons in the atoms to absorb some of the energy and move to a higher energy level (changing from green to yellow electron orbitals). When the atoms return to their unexcited state, they emit photons (red and yellow) in a cascading wave. This process is called stimulated emission. Vast numbers of atoms are stimulated in this way in a laser, resulting in a coherent laser beam.
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