UW Today In a study to be published the week of Nov. 16 in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, the team used an infrared laser to cool water by about 36 degrees Fahrenheit — a major breakthrough in the field. by Jennifer Langston
'“Typically, when you go to the movies and see Star Wars laser blasters, they heat things up. This is the first example of a laser beam that will refrigerate liquids like water under everyday conditions,” said senior author Peter Pauzauskie, UW assistant professor of materials science and engineering. “It was really an open question as to whether this could be done because normally water warms when illuminated.”
'The discovery could help industrial users “point cool” tiny areas with a focused point of light. Microprocessors, for instance, might someday use a laser beam to cool specific components in computer chips to prevent overheating and enable more efficient information processing.
'Scientists could also use a laser beam to precisely cool a portion of a cell as it divides or repairs itself, essentially slowing these rapid processes down and giving researchers the opportunity to see how they work. Or they could cool a single neuron in a network — essentially silencing without damaging it — to see how its neighbors bypass it and rewire themselves.'