It's an amazing finding that could change how we understand lasers.
It’s a pretty crazy discovery that might change one’s view of lasers — scientists at the University of Washington have figured out how to actually cool water with it, not heat it.
Even scientists were skeptical that they could pull it off, but they did, and their findings were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, according to a Christian Science Monitor report.
Lasers are of course known for the ability to heat up things and illuminate, not properties associated with cold. That’s what they’ve been used for ever since being discovered in 1960. But this latest experiment shows that scientists are able to use a laser beam to refrigerate liquids like water.
This has been done before, back in 1995 in Los Alamos, but it had to be done in a vacuum, meaning it wasn’t really practical. This is the first time it’s been done outside of a vacuum.
Basically, researchers aimed a high-heat laser at a crystal that was suspended in water. The crystal glowed, drawing heat both away from the crystal and the water around it.
Don’t expect this technology to be used in your refrigerator. The likely application of this technology would be in biolabs when scientists are looking to isolate molecules for detailed study, for example. And it will need further development to make it more efficient, as it requires a lot of heat to do right now. Still, it’s a fascinating step forward for science.