January 22, 2014
Sandile Ngcobo is a South African scientist who has developed the World's first digital laser that was disclosed around the last quarter of 2013. Sandile Ngcobo is an employee of the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) based in South Africa.
In a traditional laser, the beam is shaped inside a box with two mirrors and the curvature of the mirrors determines the size and shape of the beam. As a result, if there is a need for a different beam, either one of the mirrors has to be replaced or manipulate the beam once it comes out of the laser by using a spatial light modulator. But lasers are expensive and altering them is a lengthy process.
What Sandile Ngcobo has successful done is to control the size and shape of a laser beam using a computer. This means that the beam from inside a laser is altered when one of the mirrors is replaced with a computer interface which acts like a TV set displaying images. Therefore, it becomes possible to customize laser beams on-demand.
This innovation will change the way people think about lasers. Indeed, it becomes possible to put a picture on a LCD screen that the laser will be able to interpret in order, for instance, to create animations, among others.
To find out more: TED Presentation and Mail & Guardian