Technical Center



Technical Center: Laser Glossary of Terms




A unit of angular measure equal to the angle subtended at the center of a circle by a chord whose length is equal to the radius of the circle.

Radiance Brightness

The radiant power per unit solid angle and per unit area of a radiating surface.

Radiant Energy (Q)

Energy in the form of electromagnetic waves usually expressed in units of Joules (watt-seconds).

Radiant Exposure (H)

The total energy per unit area incident upon a given surface. It is used to express exposure to pulsed laser radiation in units of J/cm2.

Radiant Flux

The time rate of flow of radiant energy. Units-watts. (One [1] watt = 1 Joule-per-second). The rate of emission of transmission of radiant energy.

Radiant Intensity

The radiant power expressed per unit solid angle about the direction of the light.

Radiant Power

(See Radiant Flux.)


In the context of optics, electromagnetic energy is released; the process of releasing electromagnetic energy.


A branch of science which deals with the measurement of radiation.

Rayleigh Scattering

Scattering of radiation in the course of its passage through a medium containing particles, the sizes of which are small compared with the wavelength of the radiation.

Reflectance Reflectivity

The ratio of the reflected radiant power to the incident radiant power.


The return of radiant energy (incident light) by a surface, with no change in wavelength.


The change of direction of propagation of any wave, such as an electromagnetic wave, when it passes from one medium to another in which the wave velocity is different. The bending of incident rays as they pass from one medium to another (e.g., air to glass).

Repetitively Pulsed Laser

A laser with multiple pulses of radiant energy occurring in sequence with a PRF > 1 Hz.


The mirrors (or reflectors) making up the laser cavity including the laser rod or tube. The mirrors reflect light back and forth to build up amplification.

Rotating Lens

A beam delivery lens designed to move in a circle and thus rotate the laser beam around a circle.


The first laser type; a crystal of sapphire (aluminum oxide) containing trace amounts of chromium oxide.


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