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Submission + - South African research team creates world's first digital laser ( writes: From the article:

In a traditional laser, the laser beam is shaped inside a box with two mirrors – the curvature of these mirrors determines the size and shape of the beam. If a researcher, company or manufacturer requires a different beam, they either have to replace one of the mirrors in the laser or manipulate the beam once it comes out of the laser using a spatial light modulator. Lasers [are expensive], and altering them is a lengthy and costly exercise.
The CSIR team, which is part of the National Laser Centre, has shown it is possible to alter the beam from inside the laser by replacing one of the mirrors with a computer interface. The research was published in scientific journal Nature Communications last month.

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South African research team creates world's first digital laser

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"Necessity is the mother of invention" is a silly proverb. "Necessity is the mother of futile dodges" is much nearer the truth. -- Alfred North Whitehead