Laser and Laser weaponEdit

A laser is not necessarily a weapon. I believe this article should not be categorizes under Weapons, as it is just a general technology. Rather, laser weapon should be. -- Harry 23:52, 23 Jan 2005 (CET)

I'm a little puzzled by the continued "weapon" inferences in this article -- most lasers arent weapons, and theyve only been shown or mentioned as weapons a handful of times on trek. -- Captain Mike K. Bartel 00:21, 24 Jan 2005 (CET)


The following was removed because of the lack of Trek reference; hence why there is an external link:

Although plasma weapons and phase weapons were both introduced in the 22nd century, lasers, being a more mature technology, outstripped them in refinement until the mid-23rd century, when they were overtaken, and retired for good.
== What is a laser ==
Stimulated Emission is achieved using a device known on Earth as a Fabry-Perot resonator. The Fabry-Perot resonator is basically two mirrors facing each other with an optical amplification medium is placed between them. The medium is then "stimulated" to release photons. Some of these photons then bounce between the mirrors, and as they oscillate back and forth between the mirrors and pass through the optical amplification medium, they "stimulate" more photons to join in. It is somewhat similar to stampede behavior in Earth's herding animals. Eventually, the resonator reaches an equilbrium and a unique kind of light beam is created.
The most unique feature of the light created in a Fabry-Perot resonator is its coherency. Ordinary (non-coherent) sources of light create photons of widely varying frequencies, different angles of polarization, and the wavefronts are randomly scattered. Coherent light is exactly the opposite the frequency range is very narrow, the polarization angles can be controlled, and the wavefronts are perfectly aligned, on top of another. Coherent light is like getting hit in the head repeatedly with a 150 km/h baseball, while ordinary light is like getting hit in the head with a gust wind. This gives coherent light some unique properties such as being able to cut and weld at a much lower power levels than is possible with ordinary light.
There are two main types of laser based on how the energy is released from the Fabry-Perot resonator. If one mirror is intentionally made less reflective and hence more transparent, then a continuous-wave laser ls created. If one mirror is replaced with a mirrored shutter, the laser can be used in a pulsed manner. Optical energy is allowed to build up in the resonator and then released by the shutter. This allows for very intense bursts of optical energy that can be used in such appllications as initiating thermonuclear fusion and weapons. Hence, just about every practical laser weapon systems uses a pulsed laser.
== Drawbacks ==
The main drawback of early laser designs was the great inefficiency of generating laser light. It was common to use 1500 Watts of optical and cooling energy to output 1 Watt of laser energy. Another drawback was the precision optics required to focus the laser energy. Early optical lenses required materials of such high purity and precise geometry that the cost of making a laser weapon often exceeded the cost of the vessel it was to be used in. Technology and numerous interstellar conflicts eventually solved these problems and made the laser weapons practical.
Advances in material science also have produced materials resistant to the erosion caused by intense laser light. Some interstellar civiliaztions have developed counter measures such as highly reflective dust clouds that scatter the laser energy.
== Other Uses ==
Other uses of the laser include optical computing, optical fiber communication systems, image projection, material welding and cutting, high-precision medical surgury.
==External links==
ADD LINKS HERE. Keywords: Brewster Angle, Population Inversion, etc

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