It has often been said that the laser is a solution searching for a problem. The rapid development of laser technology over the past dozen years has led to the availability of reliable, industrially rated laser sources with a wide variety of output characteristics. This, in turn, has resulted in new laser applications as the laser becomes a familiar processing and analytical tool. The field of materials science, in particular, has become a fertile one for new laser applications. Laser annealing, alloying, cladding, and heat treating were all but unknown 10 years ago. Today, each is a separate, dynamic field of research activity with many of the early laboratory experiments resulting in the development of new industrial processing techniques using laser technology. Ten years ago, chemical processing was in its infancy awaiting, primarily, the development of reliable tunable laser sources. Now, with tunability over the entire spectrum from the vacuum ultraviolet to the far infrared, photo chemistry is undergoing revolutionary changes with several proven and many promising commercial laser processing operations as the result. The ability of laser sources to project a probing beam of light into remote or hostile environments has led to the development of a wide variety of new analytical techniques in environmental and laboratory analysis. Many of these are reviewed in this book.
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