Lasers - pumping

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What is the meaning of the term "pumping a transition" in relation to lasers?
 

Integral

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The basic priciple of a laser is that a significant number of electrons can be "pumped" to an unstable orbital. This is referred to as a populaltion inversion. To "pump a trasisiton" is to cause this population inversion to occur. When stimulated by a photon all of the inverted population cascades to a more stable orbital, thus a laser beam.
 

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