Scientists inch closer to laser freeze ray with cool laser in a breakthrough experiment at the University of Washington.
Conventionally, lasers are a source of heating. Liquids exposed to light raise their temperatures depending on the intensity of the beam. With a constant presence in the science fiction genre, laser weapons would be seen blasting things and enemies to pieces. How does a freeze ray work and is it really possible to cool liquids with a laser instead of heating them?
Scientists with the University of Washington have proved it is. After a proof of concept experiment demonstrating this property of lasers was conducted under vacuum conditions in the Los Alamos National Laboratory in 1995, it took a couple of decades for the freezing process to be demonstrated with liquids.
Scientists inch closer to laser freeze ray with cool laser, describing their research and experiment in a paper published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. The main accomplishment stemming from the research evolves around an infrared laser cooling water by 36 degrees Fahrenheit.
According to Peter Pauzauskie, lead author on the paper and University of Washington assistant professor of engineering and materials science, it is true that conventionally lasers heat things up. The scientific team wanted to reverse the process and prove that under everyday conditions, a laser beam could be used as a cooling tool or a freeze ray.
To achieve the process, the scientific team used the same material that commercial lasers sport. By reversing the phenomenon, one microscopic crystal that had been suspended in water was illuminated with the infrared light. This way, the microscopic crystal emitted more energy than the light it had absorbed. Thus, its glow transported heat further from the crystal, as well as from the water in which it was suspended.
A freeze ray based on this mechanism could have multiple applications. For instance, using a cooling laser beam could help cool components in microprocessors to fend off overheating and aid information processing in a more efficient manner.
At the same time, medical applications of the freeze ray are not excluded. Thanks to the breakthrough experiment, scientists could cool one fragment of a cell during cell division or while the cell undergoes natural repairing processes. This natural phenomenons would be slowed by the cooling effect, allowing researchers to have a deeper insight on how they work. Cooling one neuron in a complex neural network would allow the unique opportunity to understand how the other neurons are rewiring in an attempt to bypass the inactive one.
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