Many surgical procedures are difficult to perform using a traditional scalpel because they are located in hard to reach places, often requiring incisions in healthy tissue to access the area requiring surgery. Lasers, however, have made such surgery both easier and safer because a finely focused beam from a carbon dioxide gas laser can cut through human tissue easily and neatly. The surgeon can then direct the laser beam from any angle by using a mirror mounted on a movable metal arm.
Anyone of a certain age remembers dreading a trip to the dentist, which usually involved pain. Whether it was the needle used to inject the Novocain or the drill used to prepare a cavity for filling, it hurt! Fortunately, lasers have improved the practice of dentistry or periodontal surgery, making it possible to eliminate much of the pain that causes some people, even today, to avoid regular checkups.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cancer was the second leading cause of death among females in the United States in 2009, the most recent year for which statistics are available. It accounted for some 22.2 percent of women’s deaths due to disease during 2009, behind only heart disease at 24.0 percent.
Precision optical components can be fabricated from many different materials, from crown or ordinary window glass to fused quartz to sapphire to mirrors, to meet the requirements of specialized optical applications. Sometimes, however, there is no single material capable of performing the desired function, so designers must turn to special optical coatings that enhance the capability of the substrate to which they are applied. Here are just a few examples.
Lasers play an important role in many modern devices, from tiny laser pointers to CD-ROM’s to industrial lasers that can drill precise holes in a sheet of steel. The power of a laser beam depends on the material used to produce it, but its utility derives from its ability to be focused into a narrow beam of monochromatic light, or light that is all the same wavelength. In order to understand the function of a Brewster window, it is necessary to understand how lasers work.