The 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).
Given 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).