Laser lighting has come a long way. It used to take an enormous amount of energy to create just a single beam of dim light. Today, we have powerful lasers capable of doing everything from guiding ballistic missiles to assisting surgeons on the operating table. We see laser lights at the grocery store checkout line and use them to communicate with people down the street and across the world.
We here at Night Stars Landscape Lighting also use the latest laser light innovations in our laser light projectors. Laser lighting has exploded in popularity over the past few years, as many men and women happily leave behind the use of traditional light bulbs in exchange for the timeless elegance of Night Stars products. When installing their laser lights, many homeowners wonder how in the world such an incredible technology emerged.
Here’s a brief history of how the laser light came to be, from the genius of Einstein to your own front yard.
Max Planck, Einstein and the Discovery of Quantum Physics
In the 1800’s, the realm of physics was based entirely upon the principals of classical mechanics in regards to light and its function. However, in practical application, these principals couldn’t explain many properties of light experienced during certain circumstances.
For instance, a piece of hot iron emits light when it’s heated at extreme temperatures. The principals of traditional thermodynamics suggest that as the temperature increases, so too should the amount of radiation, and eventually the temperature of the iron would get hot enough to make the object invisible. However, time and again, experiments showed that this wasn’t the case. Unexplained problems like this led German scientist Max Planck to discover the relationship between energy and the frequency of radiation. His theories sent shockwaves through the world’s scientific communities and birthed the field of quantum physics.
Planck’s good friend and fellow physicist Albert Einstein eventually applied Planck’s theory to his own experiments with light and its effect on electrons. These findings helped Einstein discover the existence of light particles or photons, and the phenomenon of stimulated emission. It is this scientific discovery that paved the way for lasers to exist.
In the years following World War II, there was great need in multiple fields for manmade short wave electromagnetic radiation. Charles H. Townes was then part of a team of scientists attempting to do just that. One sunny day, while sitting on a park bench, he came up with a unique idea inspired by the warm light surrounding him. It seemed that molecules themselves would be the perfect candidate for emitting the extremely short wavelengths needed.
Sure enough, after years of development at Columbia University, the first M.A.S.E.R. was created in 1954. The term Maser stands for Microwave Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. While this early form of laser exhibited only a small amount of power, it proved it was possible to create an incredibly uniform stream of radiation of a single wavelength.
The Race Was On
In 1960, Theodore H. Maiman, a physicist at Hughes Research Laboratories in California, created the first laser. He did so with a synthetic ruby cylinder whose ends were made reflective with silver coating. This helped intensify the stream of light, creating a much more powerful beam than previously made by the maser.
Before the year was over there was significant progress in laser development around the world. Peter P. Sorokin and Mirek J. Stevenson created a uranium laser. William Bennett Jr., Donald Herriott and Ali Javan developed the helium neon laser and Gordon Gould worked toward further developing his own laser studies at Technical Research Group. The competition was so fierce that battles waged throughout the next decade over patent rights, particularly between TRG and Bell Labs. In Russia, Nicolay Basov and Aleksandr Prokhorov also successfully worked toward laser development.
Ultimately, historians often credit all these men for the invention of the modern laser.
From the Laboratory to Mainstream Society
Thanks to the hard work of innovative scientists, the next three decades were an incredible time for the advancement of laser technology. Lasers became smaller, more efficient and cost less money to make. Inventions like office printers, barcode scanners, fiber optics and CD’s became prevalent thanks to the world of lasers. In fact, laser light has come to play so many important roles that it’s hard to fathom the modern world without them.
Bringing Technology and Entertainment Home
In the 1970’s, laser lights became common at rock concerts around the country. Pink Floyd, Led Zeppelin and the Electric Light Orchestra adapted the practical laser and used it to revolutionize live entertainment.
Eventually, concerts emerged in cities everywhere with laser lights placed at center stage. Families went to laser light shows as a fun way to celebrate holidays and experience the futuristic technology first hand.
In recent years, the entertaining world of laser light shows has led to the creation of consumer products that allow families to enjoy the same level of special effects for their own homes.
Thanks to the power of diffraction, a single laser beam can be split into thousands of beautiful specs of light. The effect makes it seem that the stars themselves have been placed right in your own backyard. Welcome to the world of holiday laser lights from Night Stars Landscape Lighting. Thanks to the rich history of laser technology and development, you too can enjoy the benefits of bringing the future to your very own space. If you want holiday laser lighting for your home, check out Night Stars Landscape Lighting today!