It has been predicted that the laser technology market will be worth a staggering $16.9bn by 2024. The technology already plays a major role in a number of industries, including industrial, electronics, mobile manufacturing and healthcare, where the laser is in huge demand. As well as its medical uses, the market is also driven largely by the growing preference for enhanced performance over traditional processes, as well as a shift towards the production of nano and microdevices.
This article will define what laser is at its most basic form, and also examine the rise of laser technology and the potential for it to contribute to business growth.
What is Laser?
A laser is an acronym for “light amplification by the stimulated emission of radiation”. In basic terms, a laser produces a narrow beam of light that can be useful in a huge variety of technologies and instruments, such as laser printers, barcode scanners, laser surgery, and skin treatments, cutting and welding materials, and in laser lighting displays for entertainment.
How does it work? The laser device stimulates atoms or molecules to emit light at particular wavelengths. It amplifies the light and produces a very narrow beam of radiation; this emission generally covers a limited range of visible, infrared or ultraviolet wavelengths.
Which Industries Currently Use Laser?
Let’s look in more detail at a few industries where laser plays a vital role in the success of their operations:
Lockheed Martin, a defense and aerospace firm based in Maryland, was recently awarded a $130 million contract by the US army to build a high-energy laser weapon, with the intention of eventually mounting it onto army vehicles.
They developed a 30-kilowatt laser called Athena which when tested, managed to burn a hole in a truck engine that was a mile away. They have also revealed plans to develop a new generation of ‘super lasers’- funneling several lasers into one powerful beam.
Medicine and Surgery
In the medical field, lasers have transformed the way that surgeries are performed. Medical lasers use precisely focused light sources to treat or remove tissues. Because they are incredibly accurate and can focus on tiny areas, it means they can be used for precise surgical work (in place of a scalpel).
Laser technology can also be used in cosmetic surgery, refractive eye surgery, dental procedures and general surgical procedures such as tumor removal, cataract removal, and plastic surgery.
Silicon photonics technology has allowed for much faster digital signaling than previously possible when using traditional electron-based semiconductor devices. And at the very heart of these new optical components is a laser.
Silicon photonics allows for high-speed signal transmission that far exceeds the capabilities of copper cabling and it continues to grow more sophisticated, allowing for greater computing performance.
What’s the Future for Businesses Using Laser Technology?
The laser market looks strong and shows no signs of decline. In 2017, worldwide sales of lasers reached $13.07 billion—a 21.6% jump from the year previous. Sales for 2018 were expected to grow a steady 5.3% to $13.76 billion, and the same for 2019.
These figures show that laser is likely to play an ever more vital role in business growth and become a catalyst for huge advancements of technological products. Companies such as RS Components are reacting to this by keeping up with market demands; they supply innovative products that ensure a business’s technology works efficiently and reliably when it needs to, for example in the medical industry where a technology failure could be disastrous.
Finally, what do we see for the future? One of the predicted uses for laser technology includes the possibility of powering computers wirelessly- for both data and power. An experiment by researchers at the University of Washington has already proved that it’s possible to use laser light to safely charge a smartphone across a room, so the potential for a completely flexible work environment may not be as far away as we think. Another expected advancement is the use of laser light pulses that will work 1 million times faster than the bits in modern computers, by introducing quantum information devices.
Overall, the consequences and benefits for businesses could be significant if laser technology continues to develop at the rate that it has, and it’s likely to play an increasingly vital role in business growth in the years to come.