Scientists are developing a new laser that can cool liquids.
Everyone has thought about a reverse-microwave device that would chill your favorite beverages or foods in a way similar to how a microwave heats them, and now, new research may make that possible in the near future.
A new study, led by Paden Roder of the University of Washington, says a team of researchers has used an infrared laser to cool liquids by about 36 degrees, according to a report on cnet.com. This is the first time that a laser beam has been used to refrigerate liquids such as water under everyday conditions, according to senior author Peter Pauzauskie, assistant professor of materials science and engineering.
He adds it was unknown if it could be done, since normally water will warm when illuminated.
The process uses blue-shifted infrared laser and a nanocrystal in a drop of water. The blue-shifted photons become absorbed by the water crystal, which excites the atoms. After releasing the photon, it carries the heat away with it and cools the crystal and the water surrounding it.
The discovery could have far-reaching applications, in addition to chilling the beer for the summer party. The process could be refined to keep microprocessors cooler, and even has possibilities of being used in observing brain activity without causing damage to the brain itself.
Pauzauskie says, “There’s a lot of interest in how cells divide and how molecules and enzymes function, and it’s never been possible before to refrigerate them to study their properties.” By using the new technology, researchers could slow down a portion of a cell while it is dividing or repairing, and allow scientists to examine the process more thoroughly, leading to better understanding.
Manufacturing could also benefit from the discovery. Imagine a high-power laser being used that doesn’t generate the super heat normally associated with the process. Cooler laser beams could be produced that are even more powerful without causing damage from the generated heat.
But, before they become commercially available, the team says there is a lot more work to be done. The current process uses a lot of energy, and it will have to become more efficient to used.
Pauzauskie added the team would like to hear from other scientists and businesses regarding ways the new technology can be used as well.