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Laser

Koji Usami holding the semiconductor nanomembrane inside its holder

Researchers at the Niels Bohr Institute have succeeded in using a new form of laser cooling method to cool a two and a half square millimeter semiconducting gallium arsenide (GaAs) membrane with a thickness of 160 nm from room temperature to four degrees above absolute zero - the temperature of liquid helium.  Read More

After the laser beam hits the sample, the scattered light is collected by a telescope and ...

Contrary to what some cartoons might have led you to believe, explosives aren’t always emblazoned with the letters TNT making them easy to identify. Some people will actually go to the trouble of disguising explosives by placing them in nondescript containers. This means that to analyze them, some close quarter examination that puts someone at risk is usually required. Researchers at the Vienna University of Technology (TU Vienna) have developed a detection method using laser light that allows explosives to be detected not only from distances of over 100 meters (328 ft), but works even when the explosives are hidden inside an opaque container.  Read More

The INSIGHT100 airport security scanner is able to identify the liquid contents of various...

Besides having to remove our shoes, the volume limitations regarding liquids and gels in carry-on baggage has become a major hassle in the world of post 9-11 airport security. Hopefully, however, we may soon be able to once again bring our big bottles of water and tubes of toothpaste aboard airliners in our overnight bags. Britain’s Cobalt Light Systems has developed a scanner called the INSIGHT100, that uses laser light to assess the liquid contents of containers, even if those containers are opaque.  Read More

SLAC's LCLS is the world's most powerful X-ray laser (Photo: University of Oxford/Sam Vink...

To say things are really heating up at the US Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory isn't just a bad pun, it's one hell (sorry) of an understatement. An Oxford-led team used the Stanford-based facility that houses the world's most powerful X-ray laser to create and probe a 2-million-degree Celsius (or about 3.6 million degrees Fahrenheit) piece of matter. The experiment allowed the scientists the closest look yet at what conditions might be like in the heart of the Sun, other stars and planets.  Read More

Police in the UK are currently testing an anti-riot laser that temporarily blinds targets

After riots this past summer left parts of the UK in shambles, it's no wonder that police in that part of the world are looking for new methods of crowd control. Since the usual methods for subduing rioters were seen as largely ineffective against their sheer numbers at the time, police have been looking into new tactics as well as non-lethal weapons to replace the standard tasers and tear gas. To that end, the next time someone tries to loot a store in England, they may find themselves literally struck blind thanks to a new riot laser currently being tested called the "SMU 100."  Read More

A True 3D pyramid hovers in mid-air  (Image: DigInfo)

Engineers from Burton Inc. in Japan have rolled out a "True 3D" display, which evolved from work begun five years previously by teams at Keio University and Japan's national institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology (AIST). While most 3D displays available today involve a form of optical illusion that depends on the parallax or disparity inherent in human binocular vision, this new system, which can function in air or under water, needs no screen of any sort, and the effect is quite impressive.  Read More

Visualization of the acousto-optic effect (Image: NPL)

We've been following the quest for the world's best speakers for some time but remarkably, there's still room for improvement. A key issue that plagues proper sound reproduction (and thus its perceived quality) is a phenomenon known as deconstructive interference. This occurs when audio signals overlap and cancel one another out, creating dead spots which, until recently, have been very difficult to track. Now, a team from Britain's National Physical Laboratory (NPL) has figured out a clever way to make speaker sound "visible" - and they do it with laser light.  Read More

Artist's concept of a NASA Mars Exploration Rover on the surface of Mars collecting sample...

NASA is looking to turn another staple of science fiction to practical use by studying ways to make “tractor beams” a reality. While none of the technologies under the microscope will be able to transport anything the size of a modified YT-1300 Corellian freighter – at least in the short term – the researchers will examine if it is possible to trap and move planetary or atmospheric particles using laser light so they can be delivered to a robotic rover or orbiting spacecraft for analysis.  Read More

Hobbyist Patrick Priebe's latest creation is a wrist-mounted laser-sighted mini crossbow

A lot of people think crossbows are pretty cool. Lasers, miniaturized things, and wearable devices also tend to rate pretty high on the neat-o-meter. It goes to follow, therefore, that a small wrist-mounted laser-sighted crossbow should have a lot of admirers. Well, laser hobbyist Patrick Priebe built just such a device, and his video of it in action has already racked up over 100,000 hits in just four days. As it turns out, the "WristBow" is just the latest of his cyberpunk-esque creations.  Read More

Researcher Jeff Tsao examines the set-up used to test diode lasers as an alternative to LE...

With incandescent light bulbs in the process of being phased out around the world, LEDs are one of the most promising technologies for taking over our day-to-day lighting needs – they use less energy, provide more light, contain less toxic substances, and are tougher than incandescents. That said, they may not be the one and only best choice. Lasers are even more efficient than LEDs at high amperages, although scientists have long believed that the quality of white light produced by diode lasers would be unpleasing to the human eye. According to a study recently carried out by Sandia National Laboratories, however, the human eye appears to like their light just fine.  Read More

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