Knowledge Base

How Do Lasers Work?

A laser, or Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission Radiation, is an artificial form of light which is why it is much easier to control than a regular light bulb. Lasers are used in many different kinds of technology, including household appliances like printers and televisions but also for displays.

This type of light functions very differently from the regular bulbs that you have in your home. It is a completely different technology and is more often used in commercial spaces than at home.

Laser Lights vs LED Lights

LED technology and other light bulbs work very differently from laser lights. To understand the difference we need to look at it how they work in its simplest form.

Both types of light are wavelengths but the wavelengths behave differently. In natural sunlight or in a lightbulb, light energy travels in different wavelengths while in a laser the wavelengths are nearly identical.

The combination of different wavelengths in sunlight appear to us as a clear white light. In a light bulb the wavelengths can be controlled to show different colors.

Similarly, the light waves in a laser is also controlled to show a specific color. However, since this is artificial there is much more control and the light beams are also more precise.

A more precise light beam means that it is more focused which allows for a greater distance. Imagine that the lux of the light source is extremely concentrated in a small narrow space, in this case only 10 µm.

In comparison, an LED has a much wider coverage with a beam that is about 10 times wider. The lack of concentration means it cannot travel the same amount of distance as a laser.

So, where an LED is suitable for illuminating a wider area within a close vicinity, a laser is more suitable for reaching a specific spot at a further distance. Thus, their purposes are also different.

There are some similarities between these technologies, though. They are both diodes that can only emit one color at a time which is why a color changing installation or fixture contains several diodes.

When to Use

Lasers are mainly used in electronics and appliances and have many commercial purposes, especially as Christmas decorations. The technology is commonly used in precision surgeries and also in mass communication systems.

However, they are mostly known for special effects and displays at events.

You can use both technologies for light displays but the type will probably differ. Lasers are used for elaborate displays of moving beams that take up a large area while LEDs are usually used for screens or for illuminating a specific detail.

For example, you will see laser beams at the edges of the stage moving around during the show. At the back of the stage and spread throughout the venue you might see LED screens or a setup using light bulbs.

Overall, laser lights are mainly for decorative and artful purposes. You would not be using this technology for illuminating an entire room.

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