What's Your Wavelength?

A ruby laser (depicted earlier) is a solid-state laser and emits at a wavelength of 694 nm. Other lasing mediums can be selected based on the desired emission wavelength (see table below), power needed, and pulse duration. Some lasers are very powerful, such as the CO2 laser, which can cut through steel. The reason that the CO2 laser is so dangerous is because it emits laser light in the infrared and microwave region of the spectrum. Infrared radiation is heat, and this laser basically melts through whatever it is focused upon.

Other lasers, such as diode lasers, are very weak and are used in today’s pocket laser pointers. These lasers typically emit a red beam of light that has a wavelength between 630 nm and 680 nm. Lasers are utilized in industry and research to do many things, including using intense laser light to excite other molecules to observe what happens to them.

Here are some typical lasers and their emission wavelengths:

Laser Type
Wavelength (nm)
Argon fluoride (UV)
193
Krypton fluoride (UV)
248
Xenon chloride (UV)
308
Nitrogen (UV)
337
Argon (blue)
488
Argon (green)
514
Helium neon (green)
543
Helium neon (red)
633
Rhodamine 6G dye (tunable)
570-650
Ruby (CrAlO3) (red)
694
Nd:Yag (NIR)
1064
Carbon dioxide (FIR)
10600