Ever heard someone say that a laser is operating at say, “15 Joules per centimeter squared” and wonder what exactly is being said.
What is a Joule? Does it have anything to do with rubies or diamonds? And where does the term come from?
The answer may surprise you….
James Prescott Joule (1818-1889) was an English physicist. Joule studied the nature of heat, and discovered its relationship to mechanical work (energy). This led to the theory of conservation of energy (the First Law of Thermodynamics which states that the total energy of an isolated system is constant; energy can be transformed from one form to another, but cannot be created or destroyed).
The Joule, is named after James Prescott Joule. He worked with Lord Kelvin to develop the absolute scale of temperature, made observations on magnetostriction, and found the relationship between the flow of current through a resistance and the rate at which heat dissipates, now called Joule’s Law, (which states that heat produced is proportional to the square of the current multiplied by the electrical resistance of the wire carrying the current).
One Joule is the work done by applying the force of one Newton over a distance of one meter. It may conversely measure the amount of energy required to produce one watt for one second.
In laser terminology, because a single laser may provide for a number of different laser apertures, (or “spot sizes” of varying hand pieces), energy delivery is often expressed in Joules, or more specifically, “Joules per centimeter squared”, (J/cm²).
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