World’s first digital laser built in SA

Physicists at the University of KwaZulu-Natal have created the world’s first laser whose beam can be manipulated digitally.

Sandile Ngcobo and his team claim to have built a device which includes a spatial light modulator into the laser cavity, operated through a computer, thus removing the need for external physical modulators such as mirrors, lenses and holograms, reports the MIT Technology Review.

According to the MIT Technology Review, this is the first time such a “digital laser” has ever been constructed.

“We have demonstrated a novel digital laser that allows arbitrary intra-cavity laser beam shaping to be executed on the fly,” claims Ngcobo.

The inbuilt beam modulator is installed into one end of the laser cavity allowing for the shaping of a laser beam before it exits the cavity, thus ensuring that beams leave the cavity in the required shape, removing the need for calibration of external beam modulators.

Furthermore, the new device allows beams to be shaped rapidly through the touch of a button, given that the beam is shaped electronically through a computer.

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