Experimental cesium laser component

In 1957 Columbia University physicist Charles Townes discussed recent maser developments with Gordon Gould, a Ph.D. student at the University. Inspired by the conversation, Gould wrote down thoughts and ideas for lasers and had the pages of his notebook notarized. Recognizing the commercial potential of lasers, Gould left Columbia and pursued laser research at TRG, a defense company founded in 1953.
Though he lost the race to make the first working laser, Gould did make several lasers using cesium in 1961. This is the cesium light source for one of the early lasers based on his designs. The extent to which Gould’s notarized ideas were his own ignited fierce debate and patent litigation that lasted into the 1990s. The result of the litigation was that Gould’s patents, based on his 1957 notebook entries, were upheld.
Currently not on view
Object Name
date made
Gould, Gordon
Physical Description
glass (overall material)
metal (electrodes material)
cesium (fill gas material)
overall: 4 1/4 in x 3 1/4 in x 3/8 in; 10.795 cm x 8.255 cm x .9525 cm
ID Number
catalog number
accession number
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Work and Industry: Electricity
Science & Mathematics
Energy & Power
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
from Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn, thru Gordon Gould, Stephen Jacobs and Paul Rabinowitz
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