It's been a long, long time since I've had to worry about electron excitation levels and band gaps. Please forgive (and correct!) my terminology and misconceptions.

I've become interested in volumetric displays. In particular I'm looking at a pair of lasers scanning a volume of gas such that the intersection of the lasers would supply enough energy to cause the gas to emit visible light. Since this is the start of my research I would like to investigate a number of gasses in order to determine a number of gasses which might be suitable for this application. I have, however, forgotten how to determine the amount of energy needed to cause an outer shell electron to emit a photon, and then trying to back-calculate the required wavelength(s) and power requirements of the laser emitters.

I'm looking for some information on how to identify the required information for a given gas and how to calculate the energy required to cause visible light emission, and also information on how the wavelength of laser light impacts the ability of the gas to absorb the energy with the intended effect of emitting visible light. Links to introductory texts are always helpful, as are answers which help me get the terminology correct so that I can improve my searches for this information.

  • $\begingroup$ Maybe adding some information such as what kind of gas you're planning to use would be helpful. Basically you're looking for fluorescence. $\endgroup$
    – tschoppi
    Feb 5, 2014 at 10:59

1 Answer 1


Two-photon excitation using femtosecond lasers that emit in the infrared range is a technique used in living cell imaging via fluorescence microscopy. Advantages of the technique, such as the minimized light scattering (~ 1/$\lambda^4$) using long wavelength for excitation and the fluorescent dyes used are discussed here.

For large volumetric displays, a different technique was/is under development in a joint project of the Japanese National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST), the Keio University and an industrial partner.

Here, fluorescence does not play a role and special gases are not needed either.

The images can be displayed in air and are formed - pixel by pixel - by plasma dots generated in the focal point of pulsed infrared lasers with a pulse width of 1 ns and a repitition rate of 100 Hz.


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