Laser technology has brought significant improvements
to a lot of areas and one of the most popular lasers used is the yag laser.
It differs from other lasers (for example, the CO2 laser) because of the
smaller wavelength (10 times smaller than the one of CO2 laser), of the way it
reacts when it makes contact with different surfaces and because of the
purposes for which it can be used.
The YAG-laser is actually an
Nd-YAG-laser, which means that it uses a crystal as a lasing medium, and it is
not based on gas, like the CO2 laser. It uses the highest energy pulses out of
all the types of lasers. YAG-lasers are used in:
1. Manufacturing processes. They bring a
lot of advantages, the most important being speed, efficiency, precision and
low costs and they are used for cutting, trimming, engraving or marking
Medicine. YAG-lasers are very useful in
ophthalmology (against glaucoma and posterior capsular opacification), in
thermotherapy (where malignant organs can be ablated with the beam), in
oncology (against skin cancers), in podiatry (against onychomycosis), in
gynecology (where it allows doctors to remove the uterine septa, in the
operation called hysteroscopy) and even dentists use them against gingivectomy,
because it works great on soft tissue.
3. Military purposes. YAG-lasers are used
for laser designators (which help designate a certain target) and for laser
rangefinders (which help determine the distance from one object to another).
YAG-lasers would have
even more uses if they wouldn’t have the following drawbacks:
- They are expensive not only to buy,
but also to maintain.
- They do not work well on organic
materials (wood for example). This is because of the YAG-laser’s small
wavelength which doesn’t allow these materials to properly absorb it.
These drawbacks seem important and
they probably are, but the YAG-laser can do one thing better and faster than
any other laser: it is absorbed rapidly by metal and this is where it clearly
surpasses the CO2 laser which cannot engrave or practically do anything on
several types of metals. It is also much faster than the CO2 one.
First demonstrated in 1964
and since then greatly improved, the YAG-laser technology is used in various
fields from medicine to military purposes and it presents big advantages when
dealing with metal material (especially regarding speed and efficiency). This
is why this technology is spreading and it’s becoming more safe and reliable.