Laser Discharge Lamps

The word laser stands for "light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation." A lasing material, a crystal for example, amplifies light energy fed into it from an external source such as a flash-lamp. Scientists and engineers refer to this as "pumping" the laser.
These objects are experimental discharge lamps used to pump a crystal of yttrium-aluminum-garnet that has been treated with neodymium. Dating from about 1967 these specialized discharge lamps are similar to high pressure sodium (HPS) lamps that are commonly used in street lights. They are unusual in that they are made with clear tubes of artificial sapphire. Corning Glass made the material, called "Corstar Sapphire," that was then used by Westinghouse to make lamps. The clear tube permitted more light to pass than the typical milky-white material used in ordinary HPS street lamps, increasing the energy fed into the laser crystal.
Currently not on view
Object Name
laser light pump
date made
ca 1967
Westinghouse Lamp Company
Physical Description
mercury (fill gas material)
sapphire (overall material)
metal (electrodes material)
overall: 20.5 cm x 1 cm; x 8 1/16 in x 3/8 in
ID Number
accession number
catalog number
patent number
See more items in
Work and Industry: Electricity
Science & Mathematics
Energy & Power
Data Source
National Museum of American History, Kenneth E. Behring Center
Credit Line
from Daniel A. Larson

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