A new maser that can work at room temperature and without any powerful magnets could usher in a new age of masing instead of lasing. It may be good timing, as the next generation of lasers could be the most powerful lasers to ever lase. Now this new device could be the simplest maser to ever mase.
Masers are like lasers except they amplify microwave energy instead of light beams -- MASER is an acronym like laser, and it stands for Microwave Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation. Scientists developed the first ones more than 50 years ago, before they ever developed lasers.
The problem has been that masers require extreme conditions in order to work. Most of them amplify microwaves by using hard crystals, often rubies. The devices also need powerful magnetic fields as well as ultra-low pressures, which requires vacuum chambers and pumps, or super-cold temperatures, aided by special refrigerants that can approach absolute zero. This new maser, designed at the National Physical Laboratory in the UK and Imperial College London, doesn't need those extreme conditions. Instead of a ruby, which only works at extremely cold temperatures, this one uses something called p-terphenyl, which needs to be doped with pentacene. It can complete the same masing-amplification process as a ruby. The pentacene also happens to turn the colorless crystal a brilliant pink color, which the NPL news release could not help but point out. Because then it looks like a ruby!
The pentacene-containing p-terphenyl maser could make it much cheaper and more efficient to mase, which means masers could become a lot more common. They might be useful for medical scanning devices, chemical sensors, radio telescopes or read-out mechanisms for quantum computers, the NPL scientists say.
"For half a century, the maser has been the forgotten, inconvenient cousin of the laser," said Mark Oxborrow, co-author of the study and a scientist at NPL. "Our design breakthrough will enable masers to be used by industry and consumers."
The study appears today in Nature.
... Its really not impressive when you say "Masers are like lasers except they amplify microwave energy instead of light beams" which states that microwaves aren't light.....
Just different parts of the EM spectrum. I'd think most people assume "light" means visible light and those who know better, well, they know better lol
Also, I believe I have had one of these in my house for some time. How else could a normal HotPocket turn into a piping hot plasma wrapped in a flaky crust ready to permanently scar my face?
science magazines should be held to a certain standard, I usually appreciate the simplicity over the wide range of subjects but this is basic info taught in middle school
Technically speaking, they're both forms of electromagnetic radiation (consisting of photons) where lasers are in the visible spectrum and masers are in the microwave spectrum (longer wavelengths than visible light.)
So, microwaves are not "light" they are electromagnetic radiation. Light is also a form of electromagnetic radiation, but generally only refers to radiation that is visible by human eyes. Light and visible light are essentially interchangeable, but strictly speaking, microwaves are never referred to as "light."
You're being a bit too harsh on the article, as it's essentially accurate.
@challenger, damn kid what middle school did you go to where they actually taught you about LASERS!? i had to Google that stuff on my own time in order to figure out even the basics.
invariably there will be someone here shouting at the top of their lungs that we need to weaponize this: no we don't. there are a slew of perfectly good particle beams that can do infinitely more damage than a laser can. look up Tesla's death ray and you'll get an idea of what I'm talking about.
as for the masers, this is great, because they run at a higher frequency they have more bandwidth for power and energy. with the same ceiling that lasers are facing masers can leak out more energy before the entire system blows up in a shower of electrons, plasma, and light.
to mars or bust!
couldn't agree more, but light, photons, and electromagnetic radiation talk about the same phenomenon and lack dependency upon arbitrary wavelength/frequency classifications.
I agree with you there, but in this case it's really the inventors' fault for calling them M(icrowave)ASER and L(ight)ASER.
Really it should be called RASER (but that's sort of redundant) or ERASER (which seems to have a completely different meaning). :P
According to Merriam-Webster, "light" is difined as:
electromagnetic radiation of any wavelength that travels in a vacuum with a speed of about 186,281 miles (300,000 kilometers) per second; specifically : such radiation that is visible to the human eye.
So, the article is correct and the terms Infra-red laser and Ultra-violet laser are both misnomers as the human eye cannot perceive these specific wavelengths.
Well said, kdaviper. For everyone else, ignore that silly debate. If the very scientists working on these devices separate them by "light" and "microwaves", it should be good enough for the rest of us ... except for "chalenger".
Watch the vid if you have any doubts:
I wish the article had touched on what advantages masers have over lasers. Will they eventually replace lasers? Are other em frequencies possible?
So masers are like lasers except they mase. Got it. I actually learned something. No seriously, I did.
But why not call them all FASERS instead.
Frequency Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation
Could this be used to drill beyond the Moho, and into the Mantle? The Maser would be used not only to assist drilling, but also for creating a protective heat shield out of high temperature ceramics. Rather than using heat, microwaves are used to infuse plastic with even more ceramics then regular thermo plastics. Basically injection molding the protective pipe behind it as it is drilled. Microwaves to make heat shields for pipes, and even 16 cylinder engines precisely molded like cheap Lego toys.
Yay! This means that the instant toast making knife is possible!!! ^^
One other VERY SIGNIFICANT application for Masers
is to use a Cavity Resonator to AMPLIFY microwaves
to enormous energies and use the output as a
highly advanced, almost noiseless PROPULSION system!
a) Take very large hydrogen fuel cell (about 12,000 lbs)
b) Connect Power output to MASING system.
c) Point maser at ovaloid + horn type cavity resonator.
d) Allow maser beam to bounce around within resonator.
e) Allow wave-summing and harmonics to amplify
final microwave beam.
f) Point resonator output-horn at ground.
h) Watch your custom-built black triangular-shaped craft
Lift off ground NEARLY SILENTLY.
i) Don't stand underneath!
j) Sell working model to Car Company!
k) Kick-start new space age of personal orbiting craft!
l) Make Trillions!
M) Have a Party!
Oops! Forgot to add a line "G" to the above recipe...
g) Have powerful computer manipulate exiting
microwave on a multi-directional real-time basis.
i.e. point it at various spots at the ground really fast!
Have a Byte! (11101101) It's Good Fer Ya!
Electro-Magneto-Plasma Dynamics Is the New Plastic!