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Computer microtechnology also uses laser technology. Lasers (the name is an acronym for light amplification by spectral emission radiation) are focused beams of light, amplified among opposing mirrors. The first laser was used in 1960 by the American physicist Theodore Maiman. Directed light has extraordinary specificity; a laser light can drill over 100 holes into the head of a pin. Lasers are used to guide missiles, align walls and ceilings of buildings under construction, print, and detect minuscule movements of Earth's continents in the phenomenon of continental drift. All lasers have three major components: a light source, opposing mirrors that intensify the light beam, and an amplifying medium. Lasers are classified according to their amplifying medium and are generally of four types: semiconductor, solid state, gas, or dye. A laser beam can be directed through the ground and around corners. Laser light is used in communication because it can be conducted along glass fiberoptic cables, without much signal loss.

Laser microtechnology has many applications. Machines can use laser light to read or scan information. Bar code scanners in grocery stores routinely register product identification and cost with laser scanners. Lasers are also used to cut materials such as cloth and to weld metals. In addition, lasers (particularly CO2 lasers) are used in medicine. Lasers are used surgically and for specific medical applications like shattering gall stones. Laser beams guide weapons, such as missiles, that contain laser designators that can detect and follow the laser light path. Some lasers are as small as a grain of sand.

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Science EncyclopediaScience & Philosophy: Methane to Molecular clockMicrotechnology - Computer Microtechnology, Lasers, Scientific And Medical Microtechnology, Space Microtechnology