A group of scientists at the University of Washington were able to successfully refrigerate water using an infrared laser. This is a big deal because researchers weren't even sure this was possible as water tends to heat up when illuminated. However, by using an infrared laser and nanocrystal, it surprisingly created the opposite effect, which is a world first. The team of scientists were able to cool liquid water by 36 degrees Fahrenheit (20 degrees Celsius). The crystal absorbed the light's photons and then when the photons were released, they had a higher energy value compared to when they first entered. These photons then scattered and carried away heat, cooling the surrounding water.
This discovery can be applied to a number of scientific processes, like studying cell division and enzyme function by cooling and slowing down the entire process without killing the cells. It could even be applied commercially, to create powerful manufacturing lasers that would otherwise overheat and melt.
[Image credit: Dennis Wise/ University of Washington]