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Definition

blue laser

A blue laser is a laser ( pronounced LAY-zer ) with a shorter wavelength than the red laser used in today's compact disc and laser printer technologies and the ability to store and read two to four times the amount of data. When available in the marketplace, personal computer users may be able to buy a laser printer with a resolution up to 2400 pixels or dots per inch at an affordable price. The same technology in CD and DVD players will provide a dramatic breakthrough in storage capability without an increase in device size.

A laser (an acronym for "light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation") is a coherent (meaning all one wavelength, unlike ordinary light which showers on us in many wavelengths) and focused beam of photons or particles of light. The photon s are produced as the result of a chemical reaction between special materials and then focused into a concentrated beam in a tube containing reflective mirrors. In the blue laser technology, the special material is gallium nitride . Even a small shortening of wavelength of light can have a dramatic effect in the ability to store and access data. A shorter wavelength allows a single item of data (0 or 1) to be stored in a smaller space.

Red lasers used in today's technologies have wavelengths of over 630 nanometer s (or 630 billionths of a meter). The blue laser has a wavelength of 505 nanometers.

Shuji Nakamura, a Japanese researcher working in a small chemical company, Nichia Chemical Industries, built the first blue laser diode. However, a number of companies have announced progress in the ability to manufacture blue laser diodes and there are now prototypes of working DVD writers and players. Recently, a standard called Blu-ray has been developed for the manufacture of blue laser optical disc technology.

This was last updated in September 2005

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