The basic operational highlights of CO2-N2gas-dynamic lasers (GDL's) are described. Features common to powerful gas lasers are indicated. A simplified model of the vibrational kinetics of the system is presented, and the importance of rapid expansion nozzles is shown from analytic solutions of the equations. A high-power pulsed GDL is described, along with estimations of power extraction. A closed-cycle laser is suggested, leading to a description of a photon generator/engine. Thermodynamic analysis of the closed-cycle laser illustrates in principle the possibility of direct conversion of laser energy to work.