|stimulated emission (stĭm'yə-lā'tĭd) Pronunciation Key
The emission of electromagnetic radiation in the form of photons of a given frequency, triggered by photons of the same frequency. For example, an excited atom, with an electron in an energy orbit higher than normal, releases a photon of a specific frequency when the electron drops back to a lower energy orbit; if this photon strikes another electron in the same high-energy orbit in another atom, another photon of the same frequency is released. The emitted photons and the triggering photons are always in phase, have the same polarization, and travel in the same direction. Also called induced emission. See also population inversion.
in laser action, the release of energy from an excited atom by artificial means. According to Albert Einstein, when more atoms occupy a higher energy state than a lower one under normal temperature equilibrium (see population inversion), it is possible to force atoms to return to an unexcited state by stimulating them with the same energy as would be emitted naturally.
Learn more about stimulated emission with a free trial on Britannica.com.