In the 1964 movie of the same name, the evil Goldfinger spoke fondly of industrial lasers. “You can put a spot on the moon or cut through solid metal with one,” he said to James Bond, strapped to a gold table and about to be laser-beamed in two. Luckily for Bond, the laser wasn’t very efficient. Just look at the spatters of molten metal, the recast on both sides of the beam. Goldfinger would have made a cleaner cut if he’d used an ultrafast-pulse laser (UFPL).
What makes a laser “ultrafast,” and how is it better than the one used by the diabolical gold smuggler? The answer depends on which industry expert you ask. But most would agree that UFPLs are lasers with pulse widths shorter than 10 picoseconds—about the time it takes for light to travel halfway across the “e” at the end of this sentence.
In layman’s terms, ultrafast lasers are to evil- villain lasers what modern CNC machining centers are to drill presses.
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