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Scientists refrigerate water...with lasers!

For the first time, researchers cool liquids with a laser

News Release

November 25, 2015 Share This!

  • 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

  • This instrument built by UW engineers (from left) Peter Pauzauskie (who holds a dual appointment at PNNL), Xuezhe Zhou, Bennett Smith, Matthew Crane and Paden Roder (unpictured) has used infrared laser light to refrigerate liquids for the first time.
    Image courtesy of Dennis Wise/ University of Washington

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RICHLAND, Wash. — 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.

The lead author, Peter Pauzauskie, is an assistant professor at the University of Washington who holds a dual appointment at the 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.

Tags: Fundamental Science, Biology, Nanoscience

PNNL LogoInterdisciplinary teams at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory address many of America's most pressing issues in energy, the environment and national security through advances in basic and applied science. Founded in 1965, PNNL employs 4,400 staff and has an annual budget of nearly $1 billion. It is managed and operated by Battelle for the U.S. Department of Energy's Office of Science. As the single largest supporter of basic research in the physical sciences in the United States, the Office of Science is working to address some of the most pressing challenges of our time. For more information on PNNL, visit the PNNL News Center, or follow PNNL on Facebook, Google+, Instagram, LinkedIn and Twitter.

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