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What is 532 nm laser?

Lasers have become an integral part of our daily lives. From scanning barcodes at the grocery store, to enjoying Blu-ray movies at home, to having vision correction surgery, lasers play a major role in many of the technologies we rely on. One common laser wavelength is the 532 nm laser. In this article, we will explore what a 532 nm laser is, its properties and characteristics, and some of its many uses and applications.

Introduction to 532 nm Laser

A 532 nm laser emits electromagnetic radiation at a wavelength of 532 nanometers, which is visible as green light to the human eye. This places it in the green region of the visible light spectrum, which ranges from around 450-550 nm.

Some key facts about 532 nm lasers:

  • Wavelength: 532 nm
  • Frequency: 5.64×1014 Hz
  • Photon energy: 2.33 eV
  • Color: Green

532 nm is an extremely common laser wavelength and is used in many consumer, industrial, medical, and scientific applications. Below we’ll explore some of the reasons why the 532 nm wavelength is so popular and useful.

Generation of 532 nm Lasers

There are several methods used to generate 532 nm laser light:

Second Harmonic Generation

One of the most common techniques is second harmonic generation (SHG) or frequency doubling. This uses a nonlinear optical material to convert infrared 1064 nm light from a neodymium-doped laser into 532 nm green light. Some common nonlinear crystals used for SHG to 532 nm include potassium titanyl phosphate (KTP), lithium triborate (LBO), and periodically-poled lithium niobate (PPLN).

DPSS Lasers

Diode-pumped solid-state (DPSS) lasers use a neodymium-doped gain medium like Nd:YVO4 pumped by 808 nm diode lasers to directly generate 1064 nm fundamental light, which can then be frequency-doubled to 532 nm through SHG. This provides an all-solid-state 532 nm laser source.

Diode Lasers

Laser diodes can also directly emit light at 532 nm. However, achieving sufficient power and beam quality can be challenging for diode lasers at this wavelength. But they provide a compact and efficient approach.

Optical Parametric Oscillators

Optical parametric oscillators (OPOs) can be designed and optimized to output 532 nm light when pumped at appropriate infrared wavelengths. This provides a tunable and high-power 532 nm source.

Now that we’ve seen how they are generated, let’s look at some key properties of 532 nm lasers.

Properties of 532 nm Laser Light


Lasers emit light that is highly collimated, meaning the light waves travel in parallel with minimal divergence. This allows the light to stay focused over long distances. 532 nm lasers maintain this collimation property, enabling many of their precision applications.


Laser light is also monochromatic, containing just a single wavelength. 532 nm lasers emit a very narrow band of green light centered at 532 nm, with a typical line width under 1 nm. This spectral purity is important for many science and metrology uses.


The combination of collimation and monochromaticity give lasers extremely high brightness. Focusing the 532 nm light down enables applications like ablation, nonlinear optics, and laser cutting and drilling.

Power and Energy

532 nm lasers are available in powers from milliwatts to tens of watts, even up to kilowatts in specialized industrial laser systems. The energy per pulse can reach millijoules to joules depending on the laser type and specifications.

Continuous or Pulsed Operation

532 nm lasers can be operated continuously (CW) or in pulsed mode, with pulse lengths ranging from nanoseconds to femtoseconds depending on the laser design. This flexibility suits different applications.

Beam Quality

Beam quality or beam propagation ratios (M2) range from 1-1.2 for Gaussian single-transverse mode 532 nm beams, up to >50 for multimode outputs. Higher beam quality means more focusable light.

Now let’s see how these properties make 532 nm lasers so widely usable.

Uses and Applications of 532 nm Lasers

Some major uses of 532 nm lasers include:

Laser Pointers

Green 532 nm laser pointers and presentation remotes are very common due to the high visibility of green light. The Table below shows some typical 532 nm laser pointer specifications:

Parameter Typical Specification
Output Power 1-5 mW
Beam Divergence
Beam Diameter 2-5 mm
Wavelength Tolerance ± 5 nm

Scientific Research

532 nm lasers are used extensively in physics, chemistry, biology, and other lab research either independently or for pumping tunable dye lasers. Applications include laser cooling, spectroscopy, fluorescence microscopy, optical traps, and more.

Flow Cytometry

Flow cytometry systems use 532 nm lasers for exciting fluorescent tags. This allows analyzing and sorting cells and other particles by type rapidly.

OCT Imaging

Optical coherence tomography (OCT) for high-resolution medical imaging often employs 532 nm light due to its scattering properties in tissue. This enables detailed visualization for diagnostic applications.

Photodynamic Therapy

Certain photosensitizing drugs accumulate preferentially in cancerous tissue. Illuminating with 532 nm light activates these drugs to produce localized toxic effects that can destroy tumors with minimal side effects.

Laser Displays

Scanning 532 nm lasers are used in both rear-projection and direct-view laser TVs and projectors to produce bright green images. Combining red, green (532 nm), and blue lasers enables displays with a wider color gamut.

Laser Cutting and Drilling

Frequency-doubled 532 nm lasers provide a higher absorption in many materials compared to infrared for more efficient material processing. This makes them well-suited for laser cutting, drilling, and micromachining.

Underwater Communications

532 nm light suffers lower scattering losses in water compared to other visible wavelengths. This helps 532 nm lasers transmit optical signals over longer distances underwater for marine research and military applications.

These examples highlight the utility of 532 nm lasers in diverse fields including consumer products, manufacturing, medicine, scientific research, entertainment, and more.

Now let’s compare the advantages and disadvantages of 532 nm lasers.

Advantages and Disadvantages of 532 nm Lasers


  • High absorption in many plastics and semiconductors for efficient material processing
  • Smaller spot size achievable compared to longer IR wavelengths
  • Visible wavelength provides easy alignment and adjustment
  • High sensitivity for fluorescence excitation
  • Good transmission in water compared to other visible wavelengths
  • Relatively inexpensive and widely available


  • Lower powers and slower processing of metals compared to IR lasers
  • More hazardous to eyes and skin than longer wavelengths
  • Absorption losses in glass optics
  • Scattered more in atmosphere than IR beams

So while 532 nm lasers have some drawbacks, their advantages of cost, availability, visibility, and utility for many materials help drive their widespread adoption.


In summary, the 532 nm green laser fills an important niche on the visible light spectrum, combining good visibility, precision, performance, and cost-effectiveness. Their unique properties lead to uses across consumer, industrial, scientific, and medical realms. While no single laser can meet every need, the 532 nm wavelength offers an exceptional combination of capabilities to make it one of the most popular and versatile lasers available. Continuing development of 532 nm laser technology and applications will ensure they remain a key tool for enhancing our lives.