Maiman was a graduate of the University of Colorado, which awarded him a B.S. in engineering physics in 1949. Later, he received his Ph.D. in physics in 1955 from Stanford University and began work at the Hughes Research Laboratory (HRL). There he concentrated on creating a device capable of converting mixed frequency electromagnetic radiation into highly amplified and coherent light of discrete frequency. Maiman later found that the accepted calculations of the fluorescence quantum efficiency of ruby were wrong and that the material could be used for his research. His persistence with ruby eventually paid off, for on May 16, 1960, the device he built using it became the world’s first operable laser (acronym for light amplification by stimulated emission of radiation).
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