A 60-Year Retrospective of the Laser – Part 1

This year the laser will celebrate 60 remarkable years of helping shape a world of manufacturing, business, and everyday life. Famed scientist and mathematician Albert Einstein had his own theories of the laser in 1917. He is credited for discovering that the stimulated emission of radiation given off by lasers could occur. Einstein also predicted the process of Stimulated Emission. Albert Einstein’s provided the groundwork for the next iteration of the laser — the maser.

Dr. Charles Hard Townes was the inventor of the maser, which is the precursor to the laser. He served in World War II as a radar technician. Dr. Townes later hired as a professor at Columbia University from 1950 to 1952 in the Columbia radiation laboratory. From 1959 to 1964, he served in the Institute of defense analysis in Washington, D.C., where he studied radar and later created the maser. Maser stands for Microwave Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. Dr. Townes would later win the Nobel Prize and carry over 27 honorary degrees in his lifetime. His work led the laser’s invention as we know it today.

The laser was created by Dr. Theodore Maiman in the 1960s. At that time, Dr. Maiman was a physicist working in California at Hughes Electric Corporation against his peers’ wishes. His work began with a ruby because of its high chromium levels. Dr. Maiman would activate a ruby by shining white light into its cylindrical portion. Through his experiments, he was able to amplify certain wavelengths into increased power pulses resulting in a laser beam. Every other physicist was floored by his discoveries and achievements. Dr. Maiman even published the results in a 1960 issue of British Weekly Nature. After this, he was rejected by his peers. Despite all this, by 1961, Dr. Theodore Maiman had shown the world the laser beam’s first successful test, never backing down from his ideals that it could work and proved that the laser could be an easy tool to use. Some of the first lasers used include phosphorus headlamps in cars and its first surgical use in 1963 to destroy the heart’s plaque during surgery.

Lenox Laser hosted a speech by Dr. Townes at one of our light seminars — a lecture entitled How Things Happen, the Invention of the Laser. It was a true once in a lifetime moment to have him come to share his immense knowledge and hear of his experiences. Him, Dr. Maiman, and the people who contributed to the laser’s legacy have had a tremendous effect on our modern-day world. We hope many share and honor the people who made it possible. Come back again next week as we continue to explore more history of a life-changing invention.

New Pressure-Sensitive Wearable Medical Devices

Credit: Khademhosseini Laboratory

                Thanks to the evolution of technology, personally monitoring one’s health has never been easier. Products such as Apple watches to Fitbits have made it much more accessible. The variety of these devices can have endless possibilities from devices that measure vitals, weight loss, and the number of steps taken in a day. This has become another major part of the multibillion-dollar mobile technology industry.

Medical device technology continues to grow and change in making unique and effective ways to function. One of those iterations is wearable pressure sensor technology. With the slightest amount of pressure, doctors will now be able to read and see more of a person’s vitals than before. Materials like stronger elastics help make sure that the sensors not only function more efficiently but also last longer. Elastics can house mechanical elements such as wires and body sensors too. Some of the materials used have included adhesive pads for placing on the skin—these materials in the devices (cobalt chrome alloy, titanium, and stainless steel). Along with the sensors and monitors, gels are used known as hydrogels that can be applied to the skin and help measure body heat and the patient’s overall temperature and its own active biosensor. They can monitor blood pressure, pulse, and even vocal cord vibrations.

Creating these new fabrications also helps address medical teams’ many issues, such as moisture from the body, disrupting the sensors to water evaporation, and structural damage. These innovations can give physicians the ability to measure every critical aspect of the patient’s body, both internal and external, giving doctors the freedom to remotely help their patients.

               Behind this innovation is the Terasaki Institute of Biomedical Innovation. They believe that giving patients a more convenient and affordable way, such as these sensors and devices, could drastically impact medical care in the future. May the Institute continue to have massive success in future breakthroughs. If you like to read more, you may click here or here for more information.

James Webb Telescope Testing Update

Imagine being able to see deep inside the makeup of the galaxy, or better yet, deeper inside of a star than ever before. That is where the James Webb telescope comes in with its next groundbreaking mission planned for October 31, 2021. Some of James Webb’s past tests included the March 2016 durability experiments on the football field size solar mirrors that will be used to reflect light from galaxies and stars back to NASA for readings. The secondary mirrors for the telescope were also installed that year, along with the optics subsystems and completing the cryogenic testing on the mirrors. The telescope itself completed construction in November 2016. Initial launches for planned in 2017 and 2018 respectively, but later postponed to the date currently set. In early October of this year, the project passed yet another milestone bringing it one step closer to its goal.

The passing of environmental tests on the mirrors and the telescope in general. Everything from temperature to durability, to maintaining stability during the elements of ever-changing galaxies and planets. Acoustic and vibration tests were also done at Northrop Grumman’s lab in California. Northrop Grumman are the minds responsible for building the telescope for NASA. When Webb is finally ready it will be folded and packed up before beginning the journey to French Guiana for launch. These tests were also to ensure that the telescope could even survive its rocket journey to space, which scientists are now confident that it will. Webb will orbit approximately one million miles from Earth. The initial rocket launch is expected to be the most perilous part of the entire mission for the telescope.

Northrop Grumman, along with the European space agency and the Canadian space agency have all partnered in collaboration with NASA to create James Webb and see its massively ambitious vision come to fruition. After the launch, the operation of the telescope will be handled by the Space Telescope Science Institute. Lenox Laser continues to give our best wishes to all involved. For further information please visit NASA’s website.

NASA Planning a Possible Venus Mission

The attempt to explore the vast mystery that is space has quite the storied history. In years past, exploring space has been with humans traveling to these new locations — such as Apollo 11 — and flyovers with semi-autonomous spacecraft. One of the first flyovers of a planet was done by Mariner 1 over Venus. Mariner 1 was the first scheduled to do its mission in July of 1962, but it failed to navigate correctly. In August of 1962, however, Mariner 2 launched and was able to do a successful flyover of Venus — marking the first surveillance pass of Venus done by the United States. Since then, there have been 42 missions to Venus.  

Courtesy of NASA

While flyovers of Venus have continued to this day — such as the BepiColumbo spacecraft, NASA plans to send a rover to the fiery planet. NASA, in the past, has used the Mars rover to explore Mars, for example. With so much success with rovers in aiding the exploration of Mars, NASA is looking to use this same concept to search the surface of Venus, proving to be a challenge. With a tentative launch time set in 2026, scientists and researchers hope to understand Venus’s environment better. 

The environment of Venus has earned quite a reputation. The surface of Venus has been nicknamed Hell because of its temperatures. Scientists have even said it is where they send landers to die because the environment’s heat destroys them. They will need a new rover that will withstand the planet’s massive temperatures of close to 1000°F and last for more than two hours before being destroyed. Only three Russian landers have lasted longer than an hour on the surface. Scientists have concluded that building a rover that will rely on electronics is not necessarily the correct choice. Instead, they wish to use mechanics that can withstand thermal expansion. Engineers may use stainless steel and titanium alloys to build the rovers. There are three missions planned to explore the planet. Da Vinci+ would explore the planet’s noble gases and structures; Veritas determined to study the planet’s geological history; and Llisse to monitor the planet’s meteorology. These missions would be a combined effort by America, India, Europe, and Russia. Scientists want to use the day-night cycle of Venus, which entails 117 days per one cycle, to study such things as the surface temperature and pressure. If successful, this may mean that humans can remotely further explore the hellish planet. 

Lenox Laser has our fingers crossed for all involved in this endeavor and wish them all the best of luck. If history has taught humankind anything, it is that imagination can never be held back. If you would like to read more, click here

New Type of Superconductor Discovered

               Scientists believe that other types of superconductors have yet to be discovered. Superconductors are solid substances that allow for the near 100 percent transfer of electricity through them. Researchers at Cornell University believe that they have found a new superconductor. Still, they stress that it’s only a hypothesis at this point.

Currently, there are two known superconductivity types – s-wave and d-wave. However, through resonant ultrasound spectroscopy, researchers have found the metal strontium ruthenate contains a g-wave pattern. A g-wave superconductor, in effect, has distinct types of angular momentum than current known waves. This new superconductor could be used in more modern TVs to improve efficiency in energy and lifecycles. However, it is still quite some time away from being used in commercial products. It is hoped that this new energy wave can go through things like hardened crystal and harder metals than ever before without canceling each other out and possibly providing new energy sources and the ability to work at higher temperatures without faults.

               Once this new superconductor’s true potential is harnessed, the possibilities of the future could be huge. Circuit boards that last longer and power grids can be maintained without fluctuation and higher heats. This is indeed a unique endeavor with hugely promising potential. If you would like to read more, click here.

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