Masers and Lasers : An Historical Approach book cover
2nd Edition

Masers and Lasers
An Historical Approach

ISBN 9781482217773
Published March 13, 2015 by CRC Press
502 Pages - 171 B/W Illustrations

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Book Description

Masers and Lasers: An Historical Approach examines the progress of research and practical use of lasers chronologically, covering the fundamental science in detail alongside fascinating biographical sketches of famous physicists and summaries of seminal papers. It supplies helpful drawings of prototype devices, conceptual diagrams to aid in understanding, and remarkable historical photographs. This Second Edition contains new chapters on ultrashort pulse lasers and nonlinear optics, incorporates the latest developments and insights from key scientists, and includes extensive updates on fiber lasers, amplifiers, ultraviolet and X-ray lasers, and plasmonic lasers.

Table of Contents

Foreword to the First Edition

Foreword to the Second Edition




Principle of Operation

The Devices






Stimulated Emission: Could the Laser have been Built More than 80 Years Ago?

Stimulated Emission

Role of Stimulated Emission in the Theory of Light Dispersion

Experimental Proofs of Negative Dispersion

More on Negative Absorption


Intermezzo: Magnetic Resonance and Optical Pumping


The Resonance Method with Molecular Beams

Magnetic Relaxation Phenomena in Solids

Magnetic Resonance: Bloch, Purcell, and Zavoisky

Bloch Equations

Experimental Proof of Population Inversion

The Concept of Negative Temperature

The Overhauser Effect

Spin Echo

Medical Application of Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR)

Electronic Paramagnetic Resonance

Atomic Clocks

Optical Pumping


The Maser


Weber’s Maser

Townes and the First Ammonia Maser

Basov and Prokhorov and the Soviet Approach to the Maser

The Three-Level Solid-State Maser

Optically Pumped Masers

The Hydrogen Maser

The Ancestor of the Free-Electron Laser

The Electron Cyclotron Maser

The Rydberg or Single-Photon Maser (Micromaser)

Two-Photon Maser

Maser Action in Nature


The Laser


The Townes and Schawlow Proposal

Townes’ and Schawlow’s Idea

The Gordon Gould Story

The Dicke Coherence-Brightened Laser

Soviet Research


The First Lasers


The Ruby Laser

The Four-Level Laser

The Neodymium Laser

The Gas Laser

The Cesium Laser

Laser Cavities

Further Progress in Gaseous Lasers

Neutral Atom Lasers

Ion Gas Lasers

Molecular Lasers

Excimer Lasers

The Liquid Laser: Dye and Chelate Lasers

The Chemical Laser

The Semiconductor Laser

Vertical-Cavity Surface-Emitting Laser Diodes (VCSELs)

Quantum Cascade Lasers

The Free-Electron Laser

Does the Laser Exist in Nature?


Laser Properties and Progresses in Novel Lasers



Modes in the He–Ne Laser

Mode Locking

Lamb’s Theory

Mode Selection and Frequency and Amplitude Stabilization

Tunable Solid-State Lasers

Distributed Feedback Lasers

Optical Amplifiers

Diode Pumped Solid-State Lasers


Nonlinear Optics


The Prehistory of Nonlinear Optics

The First Experiments

Nonlinear Optics

Physical Origin of Optical Nonlinearities

Further Experiments in Nonlinear Optics

Optical Rectification

Optical Mixing

Parametric Oscillation and Amplification

Third-Order Effects

Down-Conversion and Entanglement

Nonlinearities in Optical Fibers

High Harmonics Generation

Multiphoton Ionization

Ultrashort Laser Pulses

Supercontinuum Generation


More Exotic Lasers


Lasing Without Inversion

Random Lasers


Plasmon Lasers


One- and Two-Photon Laser

High-Power Lasers

High-Power Fiber Lasers

X- and Gamma-Ray Laser


The Statistical Properties of Light


Introduction of the Concept of the Photon

Fluctuations of Radiant Energy

Bose and the Statistics of Radiation

A Few More Remarks on Bose–Einstein Condensation

Further Developments in the Theory of Fluctuations of Radiation Fields

The Hanbury Brown and Twiss Experiment

The Quantum Theory of Coherence

The Discussion of the Need for Quantum Optics

Experimental Studies of the Statistical Properties of Light

Polarized Thermal Light

Laser Light

Nonclassical States of Light and Single-Photon Sources


Subject Index

Author Index

View More



Mario Bertolotti received his degree in physics from the University of Roma, Italy, and was full professor of physics and optics for the Engineering Faculty of the University of Roma "La Sapienza", Italy from 1970 until 2008. He is the author of more than 500 peer-reviewed publications. A major part of his research has been in lasers and their applications, as well as nonlinear optics and nano-optics. He is an elected fellow of the Institute of Physics, Optical Society of America, European Optical Society, Italian Physical Society, and Italian Society of Optics and Photonics, of which he was also the president.


"Bertolotti has substantially updated his classic work to include many of the remarkable developments in laser science that have occurred in the three decades since the publication of the first edition, giving us a very readable account of the basic science and research behind one of the most important technologies of our time."
—Peter Milonni, Los Alamos National Laboratory, New Mexico, USA and University of Rochester, New York, USA

"This book uniquely combines the historical development of one of the remarkable discoveries of the twentieth century with the biographies of contributors to this field, as well as scientific underpinnings and devices of modern applications. … Every laser researcher must have it and recommend it to his/her students."
—Svetlana G. Lukishova, The Institute of Optics, University of Rochester, New York, USA

"In the past 55 years, the laser has gone from the invention looking for an application to the expensive piece of equipment whose capabilities and shortcomings dictated research programs, to the commodity that facilitates every area of current technology. No one tells the story of this development better than Mario Bertolotti."
—Carlos Stroud, The Institute of Optics, University of Rochester, New York, USA

"One of the best books on lasers and masers."
—Matthew M. Radmanesh, California State University, Northridge, USA

"A great story, well told. … I will make it a ‘highly recommended’ reference for my future classes in quantum electronics and nonlinear optics."
—From the Foreword by Amnon Yariv, California Institute of Technology, Pasadena, USA

"This book blazes a new trail in retracing the history and expounding the theory and experiments as they were discovered."
—From the Foreword to the First Edition by Arthur L. Schawlow, Nobel Laureate

"a highly readable scientific essay on the subject, a historic outline with high information density. The physics under discussion is presented with mathematical rigour and is fully referenced to scientific publications. The end-of-chapter references are comprehensive and carefully chosen, which adds value to the text"
Contemporary Physics (Dec 2015)