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Proceedings Paper

Prospects For The Helium-Neon Laser Through The End Of The Century
Author(s): Robert G. Knollenberg
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Paper Abstract

The He-Ne laser has seen a developmental renaissance in recent years. Whereas ten years ago technologists had predicted its extinction by today, it has in fact become all the more ubiquitous and survived strong threats from solid state sources, unfolded a broad rainbow of new lines, and reformed itself into more useful envelopes. Today, the He-Ne laser appears to be well entrenched to survive and proliferate into the 1990's and the end of the second millennium. The historical development of the He-Ne laser is revisited emphasizing critical techno-logical paths enroute to today's device. Hard-sealing introduced during the last decade has been the primary factor extending tube life into the tens of thousands of hours range. The availability of higher quality optics has been critical to the construction of resona-tors capable of sustaining the low-gain green (543nm), yellow (594nm), and orange (612nm) lines at useful powers. An overview of multiline, infrared, and color selectable (tunable) devices is presented. New applications for He-Ne lasers, especially the non-red wavelengths, are discussed. Particular focus is given to 633nm resonator cavity structures which have come to dominate airborne particle size measurements and ring laser gyros (RLG). The close proximity of the green (543nm) and yellow (594nm) lines to excitation of prominent fluorescent dyes is seen to potentially open numerous medical markets. Other applications in photochemistry, micro-surgery, photolithography, and the visual arts are also emerging. When combined with several new infrared He-Ne lines, there promises to be a strong future for tomorrow's He-Ne laser.

Paper Details

Date Published: 10 April 1987
PDF: 29 pages
Proc. SPIE 0741, Design of Optical Systems Incorporating Low Power Lasers, (10 April 1987); doi: 10.1117/12.939740
Show Author Affiliations
Robert G. Knollenberg, PMS Electro-Optics (United States)


Published in SPIE Proceedings Vol. 0741:
Design of Optical Systems Incorporating Low Power Lasers
Donald C. O'Shea, Editor(s)

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