montana photograph Lasers

Sure, Montana has it’s requisite of mountains, wildlife and people who are connected with the land, but we’ve got tech too.


Zack Cole, director of scientific materials at FLIR Systems, Inc., in Bozeman, peers through a garnet crystal used to build high power laser systems for cutting and welding sheet metal in automotive and heavy equipment manufacturing.


Light travels through a crystal to illuminate the materials from which it was made: a raw powder of aluminum oxide and lutetium oxide, according to Cole, which are then melted into a liquid and re-solidified at a temperature nearing 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit.


At the Tech Park Facility of FLIR Systems, Inc., laser light travels into a crystal under the watch of Zack Cole. Cole says the process is a way to find imperfections in the crystal.


Crystals made to be used in lasers by FLIR Systems, Inc., stand on a lab table. Cole says the different colors are indicative of different materials used in the making of the crystals and also the differing potential uses of the crystals, which include detection of X-rays, cutting and welding sheet metal and use in space applications like satellites, Mars rovers and International Space Station docking facilities.


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