First Continuous Laser (Apr, 1961)
Laser May Guide Space Ships
GREATLY amplified light beams may provide optical lane” navigation systems to guide planes or spaceships of the future, using a newly-developed material.
Scientists at the IBM Research Center, Yorktown, N. Y., have announced a laser (Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation) that gives the first continuous beam of amplified light. It uses uranium ions in a cylindrical 1-1/2-in. crystal instead of the ruby in a previously-announced laser (see p. 94, Nov. ’60 S&M). The earlier amplifier could transmit light only in widely-spaced pulses of about .001 second and needed about 500 times as much power as the uranium type. IBM says future refinements now depend on improved optical design rather than advances in materials research.