YAG lasers can be used for cutting sheet metal and thin metal tubing as well as for light welding purposes. YAG lasers, like many other laser varieties, are also excellent tools for engraving and etching. In applications like computer components manufacturing in which etching is often called for, but in which contact with heavy etching machinery could damage the component, YAG lasers offer an effective etching method in which no contact between components and machinery take place.
An etching created by a YAG laser can be as shallow as a few micrometers. YAG lasers can also be used for boring to a limited extent. In healthcare settings, YAG lasers can be used for wart removal, the creation of small, sterile incisions in soft tissue and for skin resurfacing. Dentists also make wide use of YAG lasers and other laser configurations during porcelain tooth implantation procedures.
Laser is an acronym for light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation. All laser systems are light amplification and focusing systems that generate light by stimulating the emission of radiation (one form of which is light) from a gain medium. Gain media are solid, liquid or gaseous materials that emit light radiation when stimulated with electricity. Different gain media emit radiation at different intensities and wavelengths, and the properties of the light one gain medium produces may be very different from the properties of another gain medium’s emissions.
YAG lasers, for example, are characterized by a much lower wavelength than CO2 lasers; for this reason, a YAG laser will affect a material differently than will a CO2 laser. YAG lasers are doped with a rare-earth material, typically either neodymium or erbium. Doping is the process of combining gain media with additives that make stimulated emission possible. Nd:YAG lasers, which are doped with neodymium, are the most common YAG lasers, though erbium YAG lasers are sometimes more appropriate.
In clinical laser wart removal, for example, erbium YAG lasers were shown to kill the DNA of HPV, an infectious disease, which is sometimes released in vapor produced during wart removal; this can reduce the risk of clinicians becoming infected with the virus. Nd:YAG lasers, however, were not shown to neutralize the virus.