The difference between a laser pointer and a laser
Modern "laser pointers" use a laser diode - a piece of solid state electronics similar to the LED in most modern flashlights, but made to only emit a single wavelength of light in a coherent beam.laser pointers are diode lasers and you can build powerful enough diode lasers to you can build powerful enough diode lasers to incinerate some paper for example. achieve the necessary power.
Much as the brightness of LED flashlights has significantly reduced, the power output of laser diodes has increased recently too. About the only thing that has prevented the manufacture of laser diode "cutting lasers" has been the lack of ability to produce laser diodes of sufficient power output.
Because we are improving laser diode power output, it is perfectly possible that we will see a "laser pointer" that can cut through things.
Larger lasers (and older lasers) tend to be "gas lasers", which instead of producing the beam on a small silicon chip, use various types of gasses in specially coated sealed tubes with electricity applied - this causes the gas to become "excited" That is then reflected internally in the tube until it build up up enough power to exit through a special hole on one end. That produces the beam.Gas lasers can be made VERY powerful, thus most cutting lasers are of this type.The energy output of a laser is measured in Watts. Your typical laser pointer will be 1-5000mW
The primary difference between your laser pointer and these higher-power ones is simply that - power. The laser diode in your pointer is designed for a certain power rating - so even if you were to hook it up to a car battery, it wouldn ' t be able to cut things. The laser diode needs to be made to output more power.The laser light beam itself is not different between different laser technologies, apart from the frequency perhaps: they are all highly coherent light beams; a stronger laser will just emit more photons per time.
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