Who would have thought that one day we will be refrigerating water with lasers? The movies we have seen have led us to believe that lasers can only heat up other objects. Well, a bunch of researchers have recently proved that lasers can also cool different substances.
The laser was invented in 1960, and since then scientists have been experimenting and trying to use it for different purposes other than emitting heat. Today, University of Washington researchers have managed to use such a laser to refrigerate liquids, thus cooling water with 36 degrees Fahrenheit.
The conclusions of the study were published in the National Sciences Academy’s Proceedings.
The leader of the study, Peter Pauzauskie, stated that this is the first time a laser beam was able to refrigerate water in normal everyday conditions. He and the other members of his team hope that their invention can be of great use for the industrial field. The super laser can also refrigerate cell culture media and saline solution.
For instance, the cool laser could be used for the prevention of overheating in the case of computer components. The invention could also be used in medicine, for cooling parts of a cell as it divides or repairs itself, in order to slow down the process. Furthermore, scientists could observe and learn much more if such processes would take place slower.
One single neuron could be frozen within a network. In this way, the neuron would be silenced without any damage, and researchers could understand how other neurons go around the frozen one in order to re-attach themselves.
Despite the great success that the research team managed to achieve, there is still a lot of work to be done until the invention will be used commercially.
At the moment, infrared light has been used in the place of a cooling laser, because any light that is visible might damage the cells.
Laser refrigeration has been previously attempted in 1995 at the National Laboratory of Los Alamos.
As refrigerating water with lasers will probably become a popular technique in medicine, industry and technology, the curious future world we sometimes see in movies does not seem so far away anymore.
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