Scientists may be coming up with a real-life freeze-ray after a study has shown that infrared laser beams can be used to cool liquids. Up to this day, the possibility of creating a freezing ray by using lasers was only the work of fiction, mainly because by subjecting liquids to light, they tend to heat up.
Lasers have been commonly used for heating objects at a faster speed in order to either cut or glue material together. But researchers from the University of Washington have developed a method through which lasers can be used to cool and refrigerate liquids by basically reversing the effects of lasers.
The process they used is endothermic in nature, meaning it gathers energy inside it by absorbing the heat around it. The experiment revolved in illuminating a singular nano-crystal floating inside of the liquid with an infrared laser. As the crystal started to glow more than the laser itself, the liquid around it slowly started to cool.
Even if this point-cooling process cannot be used as one might see a freeze-ray being used in movies or comic books, it can be applied to microscopic cells in order to cool them down and slow their internal processes. By doing this, scientists can better observe the ways in which cells divide or how enzymes work, without putting the molecule in any danger.
Even neurons could be slowed down or even silenced completely, with pin-point accuracy, in order to better understand the way the neural synapse bypasses it in order to maintain the processes it has to complete.
This type of cooling system may also be used to diminish the heat from micro-processors in a more reliable way when compared to a liquid cooling system. Processors tend to overheat when subjected to more and more information that needs to be processed, and considering that a laser cooling system can be used to specifically cool down the areas which are heating up the most without causing any damage to the processor itself, the use of this type of system becomes more advantageous as time passes.
Laser refrigeration has been first demonstrated in 1995 at the Los Alamos National Laboratory, but in a vacuum space. In order for this refrigeration process to become applicable in normal day-to-day scenarios, without the need of vacuum, it took almost 20 years, proving the difficulty of this type of experiment.
The applications for the discovery that states how infrared laser beams can be used to cool liquids are almost endless. The next step in this study is finding companies and people who are willing to invest in order for the research to continue, considering that up to this point, no one thought that this refrigeration could be done, so no one thought of any meaningful real-world application for it. Only time will tell.