July/August 2005

Polymer Optical Fiber Bragg Gratings

Pak L. Chu

Silica-based optical fiber Bragg gratings are important in optical signal processing, but they have the disadvantage of being difficult to tune. Now, researchers have developed polymer optical fiber Bragg gratings that can fulfill most of the functions of their silica counterparts, plus greater tunability.

Beam: The Race to Make the Laser

Forty-five years ago, physicist Theodore Maiman and his colleagues made the first laser work at Hughes Research Laboratories in Malibu, Calif. Maiman performed the experiment on May 16, 1960, using an elegant ruby rod placed in a spring-shaded flash lamp.

High-Energy Petawatt Capability for the Omega Laser

The 60-beam Omega laser system at the University of Rochester’s Laboratory for Laser Energetics (LLE) has been a workhorse on the frontier of laser fusion and high-energy-density physics for more than a decade. LLE scientists are currently extending the performance of this unique, direct-drive laser system by adding high-energy petawatt capabilities.

Mesoscopic Electromagnetic Wave Dynamics in Ultracold Atomic Gases

Ultracold atomic gases present a unique medium for studies of classical and quantum optical phenomena. Recent research on coherent multiple light scattering in such media shows a range of surprising effects, and suggests possibilities for strong localization of electromagnetic radiation in a dense and ultracold atomic gas sample.

Tunable Diode Lasers: Expanding the Horizon for Laser Absorption Spectroscopy

Recent advances in broadly tunable telecommunications lasers will enable new approaches to laser absorption spectroscopy and greatly expand the ability of existing laser-based systems to perform trace gas detection. Researchers have already begun adopting these lasers in tunable diode laser absorption spectroscopy, photo-acoustic absorption spectroscopy and cavity ring-down spectroscopy.

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