SA scientists reveal laser breakthrough

The inventors of a digital laser have been hailed as being among the top scientists in the world.

Professor Andrew Forbes presents the details of the world’s first digital laser at the CSIR in Pretoria, 17 Septmeber 2013. Picture: Alex Eliseev/EWN

PRETORIA - South African scientists have unveiled a major breakthrough in the realm of laser technology, introducing the world's first digital laser on Tuesday.

The discovery was unveiled at the Council for Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) centre in Pretoria.

Science and Technology Minister Derek Hanekom congratulated the scientists, saying they will now be mentioned along with Albert Einstein in the history and development of the laser.

The minister says the breakthrough will also join the proud ranks of other South African inventions like the CAT scan, heart transplants and the Kreepy Krauly.

"We are truly honoured that the list of South African scientists counted among the best in the world continues to grow," said Hanekom.

He says calling the invention a true breakthrough was not an exaggeration as the product is carefully scrutinised.

The invention involves the deconstruction of the traditional laser and finding a way to alter the beam before it leaves the instrument using computers instead of mirrors.

This allows scientists to achieve results previously only possible with multiple lasers and expensive optics.

The breakthrough could impact on industries like communication, health and manufacturing.