There are many words in the English language that are commonly misspelled. One of the most common spelling confusions is laser vs lazer. Laser or lazer – what is the correct spelling?
The correct spelling is laser. This word is actually an acronym L.A.S.E.R. which stands for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. Lazer is a common misspelling of laser. Lazer is not a legitimate word.
So, you should use the word laser in place of the lazer. Due to misspellings which are sometimes deliberately done, lazer is now used by some people.
Read on to learn more about what a laser is, its history, and the confusion behind the spelling lazer vs laser.
Lazer or Laser – What is the Correct Spelling?
The correct spelling is ‘laser’. Lazer does not stand for anything since it is actually a misspelling of the real term. The word ‘laser’ is the acronym for light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation or l-a-s-e-r for short.
So, the meaning of ‘laser’ is a device or instrument capable of converting or transforming light or electrical energy into a focused and concentrated high-energy beam.
With light in this application, it would mean visible light and electromagnetic radiations of any frequency.
That is why there are words such as ultraviolet laser, gamma-ray laser, X-ray laser, and infrared laser. However, the word ‘lazer’ now exists possibly due to misspelling. For instance, there is a popular DJ who goes by the stage name Lazer.
Lazer Is Not a Legitimate Word
The only thing that you should remember about laser vs lazer is that lazer is not a legitimate word. If you try to look it up in a dictionary, what you will see is that it is a common misspelling of the word ‘laser.’ A lot of people make this mistake so don’t beat yourself up if you happen to do so.
Perhaps laser used to be science fiction stuff. It still is, and this must be the reason why some people have deliberately placed ‘z’ instead of the correct ‘s’ in its spelling. Z seems to put more oomph in the word especially when used in sci-fi movies.
Nevertheless, it is still wrong to spell laser with a ‘z’ instead of an ‘s.’ Lazer vs laser should not be an issue.
As it is, even laser is not really a ‘true’ word because it is just an acronym. But since it refers to a real light-energy emitting device, it somehow became a legitimate word. But there is no real etymological origin of the word. So, there should be no laser or lazer controversy.
That brings up the logic that you can’t really use ‘lazer’ in place of ‘laser.’ You will be wrong if you would do that – unless you have another motivation for doing so, just like the following examples.
People Who Use the Word ‘Lazer’
The people who coined these words have a different agenda for replacing the ‘s’ with a ‘z.’
- Panther Lazer – the name of a car
- Lazer 103 – the name of a Wisconsin radio station
- Major Lazer – an electronic dance music trio
- Lazer 99.3 – a Massachusetts radio station
- A 2015 feature film produced by Rooster Teeth Productions: Lazer Team
- Lazer, Hautes-Alpes – a commune in southeastern France
Since the above are names of actual things, perhaps you may find them in the dictionary if you care to look them up.
Laser – Its Real Nature
If you really think about the meaning of the laser acronym, you will see that it is actually the process of producing a special kind of light. As the complete term says, the stimulated emission of radiation does light amplification.
However, since this special light-producing process was used in electronic gadgets and special medical procedures, the devices that use laser lights became known as laser devices.
So, when somebody says a person’s eye was treated with a laser, people assume that a laser light device was used in the treatment.
In other words, the word is now loosely associated with laser gadgets and laser devices. So, now, laser refers to a device that produces an intense, typically narrow, monochromatic beam of coherent light, which is also called an optical maser.
Who Developed the Laser?
The theory used in developing laser devices was based on the earlier work of Charles Townes along with his students at Columbia University. In 1954, Townes invented a device he called maser. Instead of light, the maser produces an intense beam of the microwave.
A microwave is also a form of light, but it is not visible to the eyes. Since the maser is very similar to the laser, many have regarded Townes as the father of laser. Townes, along with Arthur Schawlow, has developed many theories required to make a laser.
Theodore Maiman, a young physicist at Hughes Research Laboratories in Malibu, developed the first laser in 1960. The first laser used a rod of synthetic ruby.
Maiman cut the rod to enable light beams to bounce back and forth inside the rod. This enabled the light to gather more brightness before exiting on the other end.
His theory of producing his laser device was based on Arthur Leonard Schawlow and Charles Hard Townes, who developed the optical maser.
How Was Laser Invented?
By boosting most electrons in specific atoms in a medium that absorb radiation, laser was created. This process increased the energy levels of these atoms.
Scientists allow atoms to be stimulated by their own radiation emissions to drop back to their former lower energy levels synchronously. They emit coherent light or in-phase light.
It is why laser light is different from other light sources. Laser light is coherent, temporary, and spatial. It can stay narrow over long distances. They are also able to emit light that has a narrow spectrum with only one color.
These properties allow laser light to be focused and concentrated into a tight spot.
Scientists now use laser light in lithography, laser pointing, and laser cutting. Lasers have also found other applications, including the following:
- Laser printers
- Optical disk drives
- DNA sequencing instruments
- Laser surgery
- Barcode scanners
- Skin and eye treatments
- Free-space and fiber-optic communication
- Laser lighting displays
- Cutting and welding materials
- Police and military devices for measuring range and speed and marking targets.
How Do Lasers Work?
The production of laser light involves the absorption of energies of electrons in crystals, gases, and special glasses absorb energy from another laser or an electrical current and become ‘excited.’
These energized electrons move from orbits of lower energies to orbits of higher energies around an atom’s nucleus.
When they go back to their normal or ground state, these electrons emit particles of light or photons. These photos all have the same wavelengths and are, therefore, ‘coherent.’ That means the crests and troughs of the light waves are all synchronous or in lockstep.
Difference Between Normal Light and Laser Light
To give you a frame of reference, ordinary light comprises multiple wavelengths and is therefore not coherent. This is not the only difference between normal light and laser light.
Their other differences include:
- Laser light contains only one wavelength;
- They measure the laser light’s wavelength by measuring its released energy; and
- Laser light is directional. It produces a tight light beam because of its coherent nature. Laser light can stay focused for long distances. In contrast, the light coming from a flashlight is diffused.
Lazer vs laser: Is it laser or lazer? If you’re referring to the amplified light, then the correct spelling is “laser”. Laser stands for Light Amplification by Stimulated Radiation.
The word lazer, on the other hand, does not exist in the dictionary but has been used by other people to refer to other things aside from the actual meaning of the word laser.
Lasers Are Everywhere
There are lasers all around you. They can be as large as those installed in the National Ignition Facility or as tiny as computer microchips. Lasers at the NIF are about ten stories high and are as wide as three football fields.
You have been using lasers and laser technology if you are fond of playing CD records and DVD or Blu-ray movies. It is also used in eye and cosmetic surgery, and measuring systems, and metal-cutting machines.
In its early development, lasers were able to produce a maximum of 10,000 watts. Now modern laser equipment can generate pulses that with billion times more power. Scientists at the NIF can produce more than 500 billion watts of power.
Liquid Dye Lasers
Some lasers produce short pulses of light like the ruby lasers. Liquid dye lasers or helium-neon gas lasers generate continuous light. The lasers used at the NIF radiate light pulses that can last just billionths of a second.
At the NIF, light beams start as invisible infrared light. They pass through special optics that transform them into greenlighting that is visible. Then they change to invisible ultraviolet high-energy light for maximum interaction with the target.
Types of Lasers
There are several classifications of lasers according to the type of medium. The types of lasers are:
- Liquid laser
- Solid-state laser
- Semi-conductor laser
- Gas laser
1. Liquid Laser
The medium used in these laser types is liquid. It uses light as its source of energy. An example of this laser is the dye laser. It uses an organic dye dissolved in the solvent (a liquid solution) as the medium.
When light is introduced to the medium, laser light is generated from the dyes’ excited energy states dissolved in the liquid solvent. The laser light beam produced ranges from near-ultraviolet (UV) to near-infrared region (IR) of the light spectrum.
2. Solid-State Laser
This type of laser uses solid materials as the medium. The material can either be glass or crystalline. Impurities such as ions are introduced into the medium in the process called doping. Other rare-earth elements like terbium (Tb), erbium (Eu), and cerium (Ce) are also used as dopants.
The first solid-state material used in lasers is ruby. There are also other materials used as mediums.
These include ytterbium-doped glass, Neodymium-doped glass (Nd-glass), Neodymium-doped yttrium aluminum garnet (Nd: YAG), and sapphire (Al2O3). The most commonly used of all these mediums is the Nd: YAG, use in laser surgeries.
Light energy is used as the pumping source in solid-state lasers. Different sources of light are used to do the pumping. They include laser diodes, arc lamps, flash lamps, and flash tubes.
3. Semiconductor Laser
The laser you most probably know is the semiconductor type because they play a role in your everyday life. These lasers are used in recording and reading optical discs such as CDs, DVDs, and Blu-rays.
They are known as laser diodes. These lasers are compact, inexpensive, and require low power to operate. Electrical energy instead of energy from light is used as the pump source in semiconductor lasers.
The p-n junction of a semiconductor diode acts as the active medium of this laser type. It is inside the semiconductor material that the optical gain is generated.
4. Gas Laser
Gas lasers have an electric current that is discharged through gas inside the laser medium to generate laser light. The laser 1medium in gas lasers is in its gaseous state. These laser types are used in applications that require long coherent lengths and high beam quality laser lights.
The laser medium in a gas laser is made of several gases packed into a glass tube. This is the first laser that converts electrical energy into light energy. The laser light beam produced is in the infrared region, particularly in the 1.15 um spectrum.
Other Gas Lasers
There are also different types of gas lasers. They are hydrogen, nitrogen, excimer, carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, argon ion, neon, and helium lasers.
Conclusion: Laser vs Lazer (Is the Right Spelling ‘Laser’ or ‘Lazer’?)
The laser is the correct spelling of the word. Lazer is not a legitimate word. So, laser vs. lazer should not be an issue. The correct spelling is actually the acronym of light amplification by stimulated radiation or l-a-s-e-r in short.
Being a misspelling of the word, lazer should never be used in place of the laser. However, due to misspellings which are sometimes deliberately done, ‘lazer’ is now being used by some people. For instance, a popular DJ took the stage name ‘Lazer’ to make his image more electrifying.