Early Years of the Laser in Switzerland

To recognise the International Day of Light 2020 and the 60th anniversary of the laser, the Swiss Physical Society (SPS) publishes a detailed report by René Salathé (EPFL) to record the development and milestones in laser science from 1960 to 1980 in Switzerland.

150 Watt Argon-Ion Laser Operation in Bern. Reprinted from Laser Focus August 1970
Image: Endeavor Business Media, LLC

In the years immediately after the first laser demonstration in 1960 in USA an extensive research activity started in Switzerland and especially at the University of Bern. New laser concepts and metrology methods as well as medical and industrial applications were developed.The IDL2020 call to celebrate the 60th laser anniversary prompted us to collect, review and summarize the pioneering achievements of those days. The report should interest all those who are fascinated by the development of modern optics and photonics which impressively shape our world today and in future.