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Nd:YAG Lasers and Military Range Finders

Updated on January 1, 2012

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Neodymium And Laser Rangefinders

In previous a previous review of the Rare Earth Elements we looked at the neodymium element and how the properties of it are found to be very useful in creating ultra strong magnets and in particular NeFeB or neodymium-iron-boron magnets. Continuing to explore the scientific applications of the rare earths this article looks at another practical use for neodymium: laser range finders. The neodymium is incorporated in the nd yag lasers which create some of the best quality laser range finders for everything from forestry surveying to high-tech clandestine military operations. If these types of rangefinders are good enough for the military to track an enemy down to the millimeter then they are probably suitable for civilian use as well. Whether looking to track the path of a golf ball or stocking up for Armageddon with survival supplies, the best rangefinders will almost always incorporate this fascinating element. While ndyag laser sites might not be cheap there is no room to settle for the lowest prices when the very progress of civilization may rely on your ability and skill in tracking with the rangefinder and triangulating coordinates quickly and covertly.

So what makes an ndyag laser so valuable a component in rangefinders? Well to truly answer that question one would likely need a PhD or higher degree in physics probably building upon a specialty in optics and laser physics. LASER for you physics newbies stands for Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. A Nd:YAG laser uses the rare earth neodymium as a doping agent. Chemists have found the the triply ionized Nd will replace some of the other rare earth metals in the yttrium aluminium garnet crystal structure. The dopant changes the optical properties This in most cases leads to an infrared laser with a wavelength of 1064 nm that must be pumped into excitation in order to act as the laser gain medium. All this magic results in a laser rangefinder that for consumer protection generally is classified as a laser class 1 device. Military-grade versions are often capable of laser energy levels much higher.

As a side note, laser devices are a safety concern due to the thermal damage that is possible from exposure to laser radiation. The new and revised laser classification systems looks to warn users of the various dangers. Class 1 is suitable for all normal conditions. Probably most laser pointers and novelty or toy lasers would be grouped into this category. Then there is Class 1M which is safe except under magnifying lens such as microscopes or telescopes. The laser safety scale increases further to Class 2M, Class 3R, Class 3B, and Class 4 which are the most dangerous lasers of all. They have powers capable of burning skin and other items that cross through the beam.

So now that you have received a refresher course on laser physics and laser safety and also understand that Nd:YAG is the cutting-edge for most range finder internals, let us take a closer look at the purposes of a rangefinder and the subject areas and professions that benefit from the invention. So of course a rangefinder is used to determine range or distance. It can be packed in a binocular or monocular type and usually has features allowing it to be mounted to a tripod or other stand for the best accuracy. The laser fires off into the distance and reflects back to its origination where the elapsed time is calculated. This is possible because we know that the speed of light is a constant. Interestingly, we used to also know that nothing can travel faster than the speed of light as Einstein postulated in his theory of relativity but recently researchers at CERN and the Large Hadron Collider have made some interesting measurements on their way to discovering the Higgs Boson. It was there that neutrinos (really small particles) may have exceeded the speed of light in the conducted experiments. If the findings hold true it could be paradigm-shifting discovery for physicists, many who have created a life's work based upon that theory.

There are other measurements that a good quality rangefinder can make as well. Besides distance, there is elevation, inclination, clearance, vertical or horizontal height and azimuth. An integrated compass can be built in to assist with the azimuth determination. Others have features allowing them to be incorporated with global positioning systems (GPS) and accessory software programs on a laptop computer. The data that can be calculated and stored is immense and has found its way into the military, 3-d modeling, forestry, mapping, hunting, construction and others specialty fields. Look for deals and to buy a rangefinding device that is both rugged and waterproof in order to get the most value for your money. Some companies even offer lifetime warranties to safeguard your investment. So whether you need to know the distance of that deer that you are hunting or the height of a tree you want to remove, rangefinders make the task easier. It is a man tool that makes a great gift for the holidays and this upcoming Christmas season.


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