According to the MIT Technology Review, a team of African physicists at the University of KwaZulu–Natal in South Africa has built the first laser with a beam that can be controlled and shaped digitally.
The device is called a digital laser because the beam can be shaped electronically with a computer. That’s the first time such a machine has been built.
The digital laser can replicate conventional stable resonator cavities as well as “custom” laser resonators to produce more exotic laser modes as below.
The applications are many. It will make various kinds of technologies much simpler, such as holographic laser tweezers and controlling aberrations in real time. Impressive stuff!
According to the lead physicist Sandile Ngcobo, “The digital laser is at present limited in the power that it can output, but this may be overcome with careful engineering of bespoke liquid crystals.”
Full article here: www.technologyreview.com/view/510231/worlds-first-digital-laser-designed-and-built-in-africa/ and Reference here: arxiv.org/abs/1301.4760 – Download the Pdf