Pulsed Lasers and Nanotechnology

Dr Henley, a Research and Development Engineer talked his lunchtime audience, who were stationed in classrooms around the School, through some of the cutting and patterning applications for lasers in industry.

He began by talking about the mind boggling tiny scales lasers can work at, offering the illustration that the pulse of a femtolaser lasts less time than it takes for an electron to move around an atom!

Scales lasers work at

Dr Henley went on to talk about how lasers can be used to invisibly mark the inside of diamonds to identify them, and sometimes also to show that they are synthetic rather than mined.

Marking diamonds

He also explained the intricacies of how lasers cut patterns so tiny that they are invisible to the naked eye into telephone touchscreen coatings, creating the x and y electrodes that allow the screen to respond to the body’s naturally conductive properties.  

Lasers and telephone touchscreens

After some insightful questions from pupils at the end, Head of Science, Mr Jones, thanked Dr Henley on behalf of all the pupils watching. He said:

‘How inspiring to see the application of laser technology – founded on exciting Physics principles and invented only 50 years ago – that can be switched in unimaginably short periods of time (10-15 seconds!) and effective over unimaginably short distances.  A massive thank you to Dr Henley for a wonderful talk.’