Infrared and Optical Masers

Phys. Rev. 112, 1940 – Published 15 December 1958
A. L. Schawlow and C. H. Townes


The extension of maser techniques to the infrared and optical region is considered. It is shown that by using a resonant cavity of centimeter dimensions, having many resonant modes, maser oscillation at these wavelengths can be achieved by pumping with reasonable amounts of incoherent light. For wavelengths much shorter than those of the ultraviolet region, maser-type amplification appears to be quite impractical. Although use of a multimode cavity is suggested, a single mode may be selected by making only the end walls highly reflecting, and defining a suitably small angular aperture. Then extremely monochromatic and coherent light is produced. The design principles are illustrated by reference to a system using potassium vapor.


  • Received 26 August 1958
  • Published in the issue dated December 1958

© 1958 The American Physical Society

Authors & Affiliations

A. L. Schawlow and C. H. Townes*

  • Bell Telephone Laboratories, Murray Hill, New Jersey

  • *Permanent address: Columbia University, New York, New York.

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