When the inventor that designed a laser to detect pigments in skin cancer was visiting an art museum, he had an idea: Why not turn the laser on artwork to understand the layering of pigments? When the museum's discovered lasers could be used to probe pigments, they asked if lasers could be used to clean pigments. Watch how parts of a solution for one problem were used to solve another.
Atomic energy exists in fixed amounts called "quanta." As an atom's electrons move up and down in energy, they absorb these quanta of energy from the environment or emit it back out into the environment. Lasers work by directing these random absorptions and emissions of quanta into an orderly beam. Click the buttons below to learn exactly how lasers do it!