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Laser 101

What are Solid-State Lasers?

Solid-state lasers are a type of laser that use a solid gain medium to amplify light beams. In laser technology, a "gain medium" refers to a substance capable of amplifying light beams. The gain medium of solid-state lasers is typically a crystal or glass doped with rare earth or other types of ions. Compared to their gas and liquid counterparts, solid-state lasers generate laser light within solid crystal or glass materials. This distinction contributes to their enhanced stability, efficiency, and versatility.

Characteristics of Solid-State Lasers:

Gain Medium: The core of a solid-state laser is a solid crystal, such as a YAG (Yttrium Aluminum Garnet) crystal doped with neodymium. These crystals acquire special optical properties through the doping process, enabling them to amplify passing light.

Pump Source: To excite the electrons in the gain medium to higher energy levels, an external energy source is required, typically another laser or a strong light source. This process is known as "pumping."

Resonator: Solid-state lasers contain a resonator, usually consisting of two mirrors, one fully reflective and the other partially transparent. Light reflects back and forth between the gain medium and these two mirrors, being amplified each time it passes through the gain medium.

→ Related Article: The Main Components of Lasers: How Lasers Are Produced?

Output: Through the partially transparent mirror, the amplified light beam can be output as a laser. This beam possesses very high intensity, directionality, and monochromaticity.

Advantages and Disadvantages: The advantages of solid-state lasers include high peak power and good beam quality. However, they also have some drawbacks, such as a tendency to generate more heat, requiring an effective cooling system to manage.


Advantages of Solid-State Lasers

Solid-state lasers offer several advantages, including:

High Beam Quality: Solid-state lasers produce laser beams with exceptional precision and focus, making them highly suitable for a variety of applications.

Efficient Energy Conversion: They boast a high-efficiency energy conversion process, reducing energy wastage.

Compact and Robust Design: Their compact size and robust structure make them suitable for industrial and scientific applications.

Long Lifespan: Solid-state lasers are known for their durability, ensuring prolonged use.

Precise Output Control: Operators can finely adjust the laser's power output to meet specific requirements.

Types and Applications of Solid-State Lasers

There are many types of solid-state lasers, including Organic Solid-State Lasers (OSSLs) that use organic semiconductors as the gain medium. These types of lasers offer convenient processing techniques and flexible spectral and chemical tuning capabilities (Jiang et al., 2020).

Solid-state lasers also include innovative designs based on new materials, such as Nd(3+)-based solid-state nanolasers achieved through localized surface plasmon resonances supported by chains of metal nanoparticles (Molina et al., 2016). Here are some common solid-state lasers, their characteristics, and applications: 

Neodymium-Doped Yttrium Aluminum Garnet (Nd:YAG) Lasers:

1064nm Nd YAG Laser.png

Gain Medium: Nd:YAG lasers utilize a crystal of Yttrium Aluminum Garnet (YAG) doped with Neodymium (Nd) as the gain medium.

Characteristics: These lasers can operate at multiple wavelengths, with the most common being 1064 nanometers, as exemplified by Lumispot Tech's 1064nm solid-state Nd:YAG laser. They are renowned for their high efficiency, high power output, high precision electro-optic Q-switching, and excellent beam quality.

Applications: Widely used in industrial processing (such as cutting and welding), medical procedures (like laser surgery), laser pumping, LIDAR, and scientific research. In gem and Diamond Cutting, semiconductor gain modules (DPSS lasers) are more commonly used.

Neodymium-Doped Glass Lasers:

Gain Medium: These lasers use a special glass doped with Neodymium.

Characteristics: Compared to Nd:YAG, Neodymium-doped glass lasers usually have a larger gain medium volume, suitable for generating high-energy pulses.

Applications: Mainly used in scientific research, especially in high-energy physics and inertial confinement fusion studies.

Titanium-Doped Sapphire (Ti:Sapphire) Lasers:

Gain Medium: Use a crystal of Sapphire doped with Titanium (Ti:Sapphire).

Characteristics: These lasers are famous for their wide wavelength tuning range (about 700 to 1000 nanometers) and the ability to produce extremely short pulses.

Applications: Very important in ultrafast spectroscopy and femtosecond laser applications.

Erbium-Doped Fiber Lasers (Er: Fiber):

Erbium Doped Glass Laser .jpg

Gain Medium: Uses fibers doped with Erbium.

Characteristics: These lasers are renowned for their compact design and high efficiency, especially around the 1.5 micrometer wavelength. An example is the Erbium glass solid-state laser from Lumispot tech, known for its eye safety, small size, light weight, and adaptability to harsh working environments.

Applications: Primarily used in communications, LIDAR, laser ranging, and medical applications.

Ytterbium-Doped Fiber Lasers (Yb: Fiber):

Gain Medium: Use fibers doped with Ytterbium.

Characteristics: Known for high power output and good beam quality, typically operating around 1 micrometer wavelength.

Applications: Extensively used in industrial processing, scientific research, and medical fields.

Other Applications:

· Solid-state lasers have found extensive use in silicon processing, particularly in the semiconductor industry, for solid-phase and liquid-phase recrystallization of amorphous silicon layers, as well as new applications in laser photochemistry (Boyd & Wilson, 1983).

· They are central to all-solid-state mid-infrared lasers, which play a key role in both military and civilian fields (Wang et al., 2020).

· Solid-state lasers are used in various fields including biomedical, material processing, and remote sensing (Gladstone, 2005).

Latest Advances and Reading Material on Solid-State Laser Technology:

Application of Topological Phenomena in Solid-State Lasers

Published Date: 2023-07-10

Research teams have explored topological phenomena in acoustics, photonics, and solid-state lattices, which could significantly impact the design and functionality of solid-state lasers. Read more

Development of DiPOLE Diode-Pumped Solid-State Lasers

Published Date: 2023-03-9

This study introduces a new type of DiPOLE laser, a high-energy DPSSL amplifier based on cryogenically cooled, multi-slab ceramic Yb:YAG. This laser can operate at 10 joules, 100 hertz, demonstrating significant advancements in high-energy, high-repetition-rate pulse generation for solid-state lasers. Read more

High Power Density LuAG:Ce Green Converters

Published Date: 2023-02-26

Research teams developed Lu3Al5O12:Ce (LuAG:Ce) phosphors for high-brightness laser-driven solid-state lighting. These converters show potential in high power density and high brightness applications, providing new directions for the development of solid-state laser lighting technology. Read more

Frequently Asked Questions

Q1: Are solid-state lasers safe for medical use?

·A1: Yes, solid-state lasers are widely trusted in medical procedures due to their precision and safety.

Q2: Can solid-state lasers be used for 3D printing applications?

·A2: While less common than other laser types, solid-state lasers can indeed be applied in select 3D printing processes.

Q3: What gives solid-state lasers their superior efficiency?

·A3: Solid-state lasers boast a more efficient energy conversion process and higher beam quality compared to other laser types.

·Q4: Are there environmental concerns related to solid-state lasers?

·A4: Generally, solid-state lasers are environmentally friendly as they do not rely on harmful gases in their operation.


Boyd, I., & Wilson, J. I. B. (1983). Laser processing of silicon. Nature, 303, 481-486. 

Wang, W., Mei, D., Liang, F., Zhao, J., Wu, Y., & Lin, Z. (2020). Inherent laws between tetrahedral arrangement pattern and optical performance in tetrahedron-based mid-infrared nonlinear optical materials. Coordination Chemistry Reviews, 421, 213444.

Jiang, Y., Liu, Y.‐Y., Liu, X., Lin, H., Gao, K., Lai, W., & Huang, W. (2020). Organic solid-state lasers: a materials view and future development. Chemical Society Reviews.

Gladstone, D. (2005). Review article. Health Care Analysis, 3, 75-79. 

Molina, P., Yraola, E., Ramírez, M., Tserkezis, C., Plaza, J., Aizpurua, J., Bravo-Abad, J., & Bausá, L. (2016). Plasmon-Assisted Nd(3+)-Based Solid-State Nanolaser. Nano Letters, 16(2), 895-899. 

Huber, G., Kränkel, C., & Petermann, K. (2010). Solid-state lasers: status and future [Invited]. Journal of The Optical Society of America B-optical Physics, 27.