In the middle of the last century, on May 16th 1960,
Theodore Maiman observed for the first time the operation of a laser.
Lasing was observed in a ruby crystal, a crystal of Al2O3 that contained
ions of the transition metal Cr in its divalent state. Maiman's
original laser is still operating today. The work of Maiman and of other
pioneers in the field had generated a revolution in science and technology,
which dramatically affected our lives. Today, lasers have been demonstrated
in a wavelength range covering over 5 orders of magnitude of the
electromagnetic spectrum, from X ray (1nm) to the terahertz regime (150 µm).
Lasers are being used for a huge variety of applications, including
surgery, automobile making, range finding, entertainment etc.
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