What is a CO2 laser and how does it work?

laserco2The carbon dioxide laser (CO2 laser) is one of the oldest gas lasers developed by Kumar Patel at Bell Laboratories in 1964,1 and still has a large number of applications today.

Continuous-mode carbon dioxide lasers have great power and are easily accessible. They are also very effective; The pumping power ratio (the excitation power) vs. output power reaches 20%. CO2 lasers emit in IR, their main wavelength band is between 9.4 and 10.6 μm (microns).

laser_co2_eschemaGiven the high combined power at a reasonable cost, CO2 lasers are commonly used in industry for cutting and welding, and, with less power, for engraving. They are also used in surgery because they work on a wavelength very well absorbed by water, and therefore by living tissue (laser surgery, smoothing the skin, rhytidectomy – which is essentially burn in the skin to stimulate the formation of collagen – and dermabrasion).

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