The roots of the basic concepts of laser theory were first established by Einstein in 1917, and later the necessary conditions for maser and laser operation, as well as the first concepts of quantum electronics and laser optics, were developed. This theoretical foundation was followed by the experimental demonstration of the first ruby laser operation by Theodore Maiman in May 1960. This first laser operation was a significant technological breakthrough with a myriad of implications spanning all fields of science and technology. Maiman's laser demonstration triggered an accelerated growth in research and development of other types of lasers and their applications, such as gas, liquid (dye lasers), and other novel solid-state lasers, materials, optical elements, and devices, with simultaneous rapid developments in laser physics, quantum optics, and nonlinear optics. This modest special section of Optical Engineering marks the 50th anniversary of the first laser operation by Theodore Maiman, and it presents a snapshot of several subjects related to lasers and their applications.
Although the laser field is an interdisciplinary one, we have organized the 13 contributed papers of this special section into three main groups:
Finally, we would like to thank all of the authors for their insightful and timely publications. Special thanks are also extended for the efforts of the reviewers all over the world for their efforts to maintain the scientific merit of these manuscripts and therefore enhance the quality of this special section. Last but not least, we would like to thank Dr. Ronald G. Driggers, editor of Optical Engineering, Anne Munger, Karolyn Labes, and other SPIE staff members from the editorial office of Optical Engineering for their endless efforts in organizing and coordinating the process, which has resulted in such a useful special section.
Gregory J. Quarles joined B.E. Meyers & Co. in Redmond, Washington as the president and chief operations officer in May 2010. He was previously employed as the director of corporate research, development, and technology for II-VI Incorporated for nearly 18 years, where he developed new solid-state laser materials and laser devices for medical, military, and industrial applications. He earned a dual BS in math and physics, and MS and PhD degrees in physics from Oklahoma State University. Greg is an associate editor for both Optical Engineering and IEEE Journal of Quantum Electronics. He is also a Fellow of both SPIE and OSA, and has served as conference and symposia chair for various laser-related conferences for the Optical Society of America, the IEEE Lasers and Electro-Optics Society, and SPIE. During his previous 26 years of lasers and materials research, he has been awarded five patents related to solid-state lasers and has published over 100 peer-reviewed publications and three books and chapters.
Yehoshua Kalisky is a senior scientist at Nuclear Research Center Negev. He graduated from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem in chemistry and physics, followed by a postdoctoral fellowship at Xerox Corp. In recent years he was instrumental in the design of solid-state laser systems, and the development of novel types of passively Q-switched, diode-pumped solid-state lasers and relevant technologies for industrial applications. He was awarded several prizes in recognition of his achievements including a prize for excellent work (1974, 1979), a Medal of Excellence by the President of Lyon University (2002), a Prize for Excellent Optical System Design (2002), and a National Prize (2007). Dr. Kalisky is an SPIE Fellow (2007), and he is the author of the book The Physics and Engineering of Solid State Lasers. He is also the author and coauthor of over 240 scientific publications, 5 international patents, and numerous conference invited presentations.