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A diagram of the laser scalpel's optical system (Image: Ben-Yakar Group, University of Tex...

The practice of surgically removing diseased or damaged tissue within the body is something of a trade-off – quite often, some of the surrounding healthy tissue will also end up being removed in the process. In highly-sensitive areas such as the brain or spinal cord, where a fraction of a millimeter either way can have huge consequences, sometimes surgery is deemed to be just too risky. A newly-developed endoscopic laser “scalpel,” however, looks like it could lower those risks considerably.  Read More

Cuong Dang manipulates a green beam that pumps Brown University's new nanocrystals with en...

Ordinarily, if you wanted to include blue, green and red laser light sources in the same device (such as a BluRay player), you would need to build in three separate lasers – each one incorporating different semiconductor materials. Now, however, engineers from Rhode Island’s Brown University have succeeded in creating different colors of lasers, all using the same nanocrystal-based semiconductor. Among other things, this opens the door to digital displays that could produce various colors of laser light simultaneously.  Read More

Researchers have designed coupled lasers that act as general-purpose optical logic gates

High hopes have been maintained for decades concerning optical logic, optical switching matrices (e.g. for communications), and optical computing. The missing link in actualizing this promise is a practical circuit element that allows one light to be turned on or off purely by application of another light to the device - rather like voltage on the control gate of a field effect transistor. This missing link has now been developed through a novel application of the complex behavior exhibited by coupled lasers.  Read More

The Blade Drive incorporates an adjustable green laser sighting system, along with another...

German cyberpunk weapons-maker Patrick Priebe has created another dangerous toy, and this one's a doozy. Previously, he’s built things such as a laser-sighted wrist-mounted crossbow, and a hand-mounted flamethrower. His latest creation, the Blade Driver, is a full-size laser-sighted crossbow ... oh yeah, and instead of shooting arrows, it shoots spinning rotary saw blades.  Read More

A swarm of laser-wielding satellites could be used to nudge an asteroid off a collision co...

A collision between Earth and an asteroid a few kilometers in diameter would release as much energy as the simultaneous detonation of several million nuclear bombs, and with the impact of an asteroid estimated at around 6.2 miles in diameter believed to be responsible for wiping out the dinosaurs, numerous strategies have been devised to try and avoid such devastation. The latest idea comes from engineers at Glasgow’s University of Strathclyde who suggest that a swarm of laser-wielding satellites could nudge Earth-bound asteroids off their collision course.  Read More

Laser 'un-printers' would allow paper to be re-used, reducing the need for virgin wood pul...

If you’re concerned about deforestation, you likely blue-bin the no-longer-needed sheets of paper that have been run through your printer. You should keep in mind, however, that even though the recycling of that paper saves trees, the process still requires considerable energy, and most recycled paper still contains some virgin wood pulp. What would be better is if there were an “un-printer” that took the toner off of the used paper, so you would be left with a blank sheet that you could reuse. Well, thanks to research being conducted at the University of Cambridge, there soon may be.  Read More

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

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