Sydney Science Forum - Beaming with pride: Celebrating 50 years of laser innovation

8 November 2010

We use lasers every day, but where and how? Find out when Professor Barry Luther-Davies, from the Australian National University, Canberra, presents his Sydney Science Forum, 'Beaming with Pride' on Wednesday 10 November at the University of Sydney.

Professor Luther-Davies will give you a glimpse into the fascinating world of lasers and the way they light our modern world at this free public talk.

The first laser beam was created in 1960 with scientific research as the only imaginable use; since then laser usage has increased so much that in 2010 we rely on them daily. Lasers scan our barcodes at the shops, are in our computers, music and film players, and help us log onto the Internet and use our phones.

Long before they were actually invented, scientists predicted that lasers could be made and science fiction writers had employed them in their stories. But in 2010, lasers are used in ways few science fiction writers could have ever imagined!

How will we use lasers in the future? "Most Australians can now count three or four lasers amongst their possessions, yet how many of us know where they are and what we do with them?" asks Professor Barry Luther-Davies, who is Professor of Laser Physics at the Australian National University.

"They are buried in our computers, phones and DVD players. Lasers really are a part of our everyday life today, fifty years after the first laser was created," explains Professor Luther-Davies.

"A team of scientists at Hughes Research Laboratories in Malibu, California, switched on the first laser in 1960 - emitted from a simple device they had constructed made from a powerful coiled flash lamp surrounding a synthetic single-crystal ruby rod."

"The first laser beam was red, as the brilliant pulsed lamp excited chromium ions in the ruby, which then emitted a bright fluorescent pulse of red light."

"Since that first laser in 1960, the world has found a multitude of ways to use the laser in all sorts of applications such as precision manufacturing, the internet, medical treatments, entertainment and scientific research. Lasers may even power our energy sources of the future," says Professor Luther-Davies.

Professor Luther-Davies is a Chief Investigator in the Australian Research Council's Centre of Excellence for Ultrahigh-bandwidth Devices for Optical Systems - CUDOS. He specialises in nonlinear optical materials and devices, and photonics, with a strong interest in the development of devices for optical signal processing.

From 1974 until the early 1990s, Professor Luther-Davies led a team working on the physics of laser-produced plasmas at the Australian National University. His research then evolved into studies of laser-materials processing and pulsed laser deposition of thin films.

He is a Fellow of the Optical Society of America and the Australian Academy for Technological Sciences and Engineering. He was awarded the Pawsey Medal from the Australian Academy of Science in 1986 for his contribution to laser-plasma interaction physics and was an ARC Federation Fellow from 2003-2008.

Professor Luther-Davies has published more than 300 papers in scientific journals, contributed several book chapters and many hundreds of conference papers. He serves as a Topical Editor for the Journal of the Optical Society of America-B and an Advisory Editor for Optics Communications.

Sydney Science Forum - Beaming with Pride: Celebrating 50 years of laser innovation. Date: Wednesday 10 November 2010 Time: 5:45pm - 6:45pm Venue: Eastern Ave Auditorium, University of Sydney Cost: Free

Contact: Bookings

Phone: 02 9351 3021