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Scientists refrigerate water…with lasers!

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Posted November 27, 2015

A research team at the University of Washington has demonstrated — for the first time — that lasers can cool liquids in real-world conditions. The findings were published Nov. 20 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

As they are cooled by the laser, the nanocrystals developed by the UW research team emit a reddish-green "glow" that can be seen by the naked eye. Image courtesy of Dennis Wise/ University of Washington

As they are cooled by the laser, the nanocrystals developed by the UW research team emit a reddish-green “glow” that can be seen by the naked eye.
Image courtesy of Dennis Wise/ University of Washington

The lead author, Peter Pauzauskie, is an assistant professor at the University of Washington who holds a dual appointment at the U.S. Department of Energy’s Pacific Northwest National Laboratory in Richland.

In the study, the team used an infrared laser to cool water by about 36 degrees Fahrenheit — a major breakthrough in the field. The discovery could one day help industrial users “point cool” specific components and help with biological applications such as studying cells.

Using laser cooling, it may be possible to prepare slow-motion movies of life in action,” said Pauzauskie. “And the advantage is that you don’t have to cool the entire cell, which could kill it or change its behavior.”Pauzauskie led the UW team, which developed an instrument using infrared laser light to refrigerate liquids. More information about this work is available in this UW news release.

Source: PNNL

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