March – June 2010

On May 16, 1960, working at Hughes Research Laboratories in Malibu, California, Theodore Maiman and his co-workers C. K. Asawa and I. J. D’Haenens switched on a makeshift device that they had assembled, and hoped for the best. The device was revolutionary, yet deceptively simple and elegant–its essence was a powerful coiled flash lamp surrounding a synthetic, single-crystal ruby rod. The brilliant pulsed lamp excited chromium ions in the ruby, which then emitted a bright fluorescent pulse of red light. But the experimenters looked more closely and saw what they were hoping for, something much more unusual: a telltale burst of coherent radiation superimposed on the normal fluorescence. This team had just created the first working example of a laser.  — Thomas M. Baer,

At this extraordinary moment, the Hughes Researchers could not have known the myriad uses the laser would come to be employed. A new exhibit at the University Libraries Main Library, “50 Years of Laser Innovation,” explores the beginnings of the laser, it’s many uses today and takes a peek at the future of the laser.


Exhibition Planning and Installation

Kari Kozak, Ed Holtum, Gordana Lenert, Steve Ostrem


Bill Voss

Graphic design

IMU Marketing + Graphic Design

Laser Assistance

Dale Stille

Special thanks

Dr. Vincent Rodgers
Department of Physics and Astronomy at Iowa
Optical Science and Technology Center
LaserFest (