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What is a Semiconductor Laser?

Laser pointers are made possible by semiconductor lasers.
Many barcode scanners use semiconductor lasers.
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  • Written By: Malcolm Tatum
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 03 December 2014
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Semiconductor lasers are laser devices that make use of semiconductors in order to product a tight beam. Sometimes referred to as a laser diode, the semiconductor laser is utilized in a number of different applications today. While originally developed for use with high tech research equipment and explored as a military tool, these lasers have found their way into such industries as telecommunications, education, and the retail industry.

Within the telecommunications industry, the semiconductor functions as part of the process of carrying signals along optic fibers. The photon stream of the laser helps with the efficient conduction of many signals at one time, helping the process of audio communications to be more efficient even as a larger load can be carried over greater distances. This application of the semiconductor laser has also enhanced the ability to provide wireless connections with greater stability and efficiency.

Within the education field, a semiconductor laser is useful in both the classroom and in larger settings. Simple laser pointers used by teachers and professors to point at information on visual display are possible because of the semiconductor laser. In like manner, a semiconductor is often part of equipment used to scan and grade various types of aptitude and proficiency tests that are used for placement in grade levels and as preparation for college admittance.

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Even the retail industry benefits from the invention of the semiconductor laser. The photon emissions of barcode readers make it possible for the device to accurately read the bar code found on items sold in retail stores. Upon scanning the bar code, the results are matched with the pricing grid in less than a second. The use of the semiconductor in this fashion has made it possible for many retail stores to establish self-service kiosks, allowing customers who are willing to scan and bag their own purchases to move through the payment process with greater speed.

The semiconductor laser is also used in other industries as well. Printing, research, and even entertainment are three more examples. Versatile and continuing to expand in usage, the semiconductor laser makes many of the devices people use daily possible.

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