Scientists cool liquid water by 36 degrees Fahrenheit using an infrared laser
Nov 21 2015
The University of Washington's team of scientists has succeeded in refrigerating water with the help of an infrared laser.
While laser refrigeration was first revealed back at Los Alamos National Laboratory back in 1995, it was done in vacuum conditions.
However, scientists have demonstrated the first example of a laser beam being used to lower the temperature of water or similar liquids, such as saline solution, by roughly 36 degrees Fahrenheit.
"It was really an open question as to whether this could be done because normally water warms when illuminated", Pauzauskie told UW Today.
The scientists used an infrared laser in their experiment, which has a higher rate of success when implemented in biological applications.
To achieve the breakthrough, the team used a material commonly found in commercial lasers, but essentially ran the laser phenomenon in reverse. This created a specific high-energy glow that carries away more energy than was absorbed, causing a net energy loss and cooling down the liquid.
For example, this could allow for "point cooling" of high-heat spots in microprocessors enabling manufacturers to design and build more efficient computer chips.
This discovery can be applied to a number of scientific processes, like studying cell division and enzyme function by cooling and slowing down the entire process without killing the cells.
"Few people have thought about how they could use this technology to solve problems because use lasers to refrigerate liquids hasn't been possible before", said Peter Pausauzkie, a UW assistant professor and one of the leading authors on the paper that published their findings. Also, they designed an instrument that holds the nan crystal surrounded by water in order to be illuminated, and they added a thermometer, that uses color, allowing scientists to follow the process in real time.