The nitrogen laser uses nitrogen as the lasing medium. The laser consists of a chamber filed with nitrogen at near atmospheric pressure. It also has two electrodes that form a spark gap inside. Unlike most lasers no mirrors is needed due to the nitrogen's high gain as a lasing medium, but one mirror is sometimes used to increase beam intensity.

 M         |                     beam
 i |-------|-----------------:        ......
 r |       |                 :::::::::::::::
 r |         lasing chamber  :::::::::::::::
 o |       |                 :::::::::::::::
 r |-------|-----------------:        ``````

When a 20kV+ electric pulse is sent over the gap, the resulting spark will give off a pulse of UV light. This light stimulates the nitrogen to send out more UV light, this forms a nanosecond pulse with UV light(peak wavelength 337nm). This pulse typically has an effect of up to 100kW, but the beam is poorly collimated.

The nitrogen laser can be used to pump a dye laser and in other applications where a UV pulse is needed , like UV spectroscopy. Due to its simplicity it is often the first project of an amateur laser builder.

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