The importance of laser was recognized by the scientific community in India fairly early and several institutions initiated research and development (R&D) projects, although modest a beginning in this area took place in the mid-sixties. Since then it has expanded considerably and now encompasses most of the department of Atomic Energy to develop lasers and explore their applications has been quite massive.

The first semiconductor laser in India was developed at BARC (Bhabha Atomic Research Centre) in 1965. This was the major achievement for India. In another significant break through an optical communication link-using Indian made semiconductor laser established in 1966 between BARC and the Tata Institute of Fundamental Research (TIER). Further laser related activity in the Department of Atomic Energy research institute called the Center for Advanced Technology was established.

The center for advanced Technology had given priority to developing technologies of important lasers and exploring their application in industry, medicine. The first laser built at CAT was a capper vapour laser. It is the most powerful laser emitting visible light and is capable of giving upto 40 watt average power. Another important laser developed by CAT is the carbon dioxide laser, which was invented by a well-known Indian scientist Dr C.K.N. Patel.

These lasers are being used in medicine and industry. CAT is also developing lasers for surgery; CAT has also promoted research in this area in various hospitals through a National Programme. Apart from the surgical C02 laser, CAT has developed nitrogen laser for medical use. Nitrogen laser has been found useful for treatment of tuberculosis.