Tech Tips Home
The Best Tech Tips And Daily Deals
Newsletter On The Internet!

WorldStart Tech Tip And Store Search
Email: Password: Login Remember Me

Like what you see here? Subscribe to the Tech Tips newsletter!   Email: Subscribe

What Is A Laser?

Sunday, April 28th, 2013 by | Filed Under: I've Always Wanted To Know...

I Always Wanted To Know:

What is a laser?


Lasers are a key component in everything from supermarket price scanners, DVD players, high speed fiber optic cables and advanced military weapons, but what is a laser? How does it work? The answer may surprise you.  A laser, (which stands for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation), is at its most fundamental level, just focused light.

Laser light is different from normal light due to its characteristic focused, intense beam and specific color (or wavelength in technical terms). The light is created, in basic terms, by pumping energy into atoms causing them to emit photons of light. These photons of light are then bounced between mirrors in the laser’s assembly, which causes more photons to be created amplifying the light beam. What makes this process special is that the new photons created share the shame wavelength, phase and polarization which gives lasers their unique characteristics.

All of this may be quite interesting but why is laser light useful?

  • Laser light is very focused, producing a very narrow beam allowing for laser pointers in classrooms & laser sights on weapons.
  • Laser light is a specific frequency, so precise measurements of surfaces can be made such as in laser mice and DVD players.
  • Laser light is highly amplified, so it can cut or burn objects used in industrial laser cutting and engraving.

Are lasers dangerous?

Recent incidents in the news of people using lasers to blind pilots in cockpits of helicopters may have left you wondering if a laser is a dangerous thing to own. Most consumer laser devices are safe, but all lasers sold in the U.S. have a safety ranking system which indicates the class of the laser.

  • Class 1 is inherently safe, usually because the light is contained in an enclosure, for example in CD players.
  • Class 2 is safe during normal use; the blink reflex of the eye will prevent damage. Usually up to 1 mW power, for example: laser pointers.
  • Class 3R (formerly IIIa) lasers are usually up to 5 mW and involve a small risk of eye damage within the time of the blink reflex. Staring into such a beam for several seconds is likely to cause damage to a spot on the retina.
  • Class 3B can cause immediate eye damage upon exposure.
  • Class 4 lasers can burn skin, and in some cases, even scattered light can cause eye and/or skin damage. Many industrial and scientific lasers are in this class.


Do you have a general technology or electronics question you always wanted to know like “How does a Microwave work?” or “Why do LED’s last so long?” Write me at and your question may be answered in an upcoming “I Always Wanted To Know.” For specific computer support questions ask our writers by clicking here.

Tags: , , ,

Leave a Reply

Like these tips? Get them for FREE in your email!

WorldStart's Tech Tips Newsletter

  • Tech Tips Daily - Become a tech pro! Get the very best tech and computer help sent directly to your email every weekday!

  • Tech Tips Weekly - If you don't want our Tech Tips newsletter every day, then sign up for this weekly newsletter to get the best information of the week. Sent on Fridays.

Other Newsletters

  • WorldStart's Daily Deals - Every week, we send out great deals in our Daily Deals newsletter. Many of these deals are exclusively for our Daily Deals newsletter subscribers and can't be found with our regular specials.

  • Just For Grins - Each issue includes a couple clean jokes, some funny quotes, and a hilarious reader's story. Newsletter is sent five days a week.

Enter Email Address:


Your e-mail address is safe with us!
We only use it to send you the newsletters you request. It is NEVER disclosed to a third party for any reason, ever! Plus, if you decided you don't like our newsletters (don't worry, you'll love them), unsubscribing is fast and easy.

Free Newsletter Signup

Tech Tips Daily

Become a tech pro! Get the very best tech and computer help sent directly to your email every weekday!

Tech Tips Weekly

The week's best in tech and computer help. Get your issue sent to your email every Friday!

WorldStart's Daily Deals

The very best deals on the Internet! Get a new set of incredible sales every day of the week!

Just For Grins

Clean jokes, funny quotes, and hilarious comics. Sent 5 times a week straight to your email.


Love Worldstart? Refer A Friend!

WorldStart's Premium Membership

Tip Archive