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Bulky computer cooling fans could be a thing of the past

Published on Jan 30, 2013 4:43 PM

Bulky computer cooling fans and huge tanks of liquid helium could one day be a thing of the past. A team from Nanyang Technological University have found that lasers - at the right wavelength or colour of light - can interact with certain materials to cool them down.

This is the first time researchers anywhere in the world have performed this work on a semiconductor material. The impact is that and computer chips could one day be cooled this way. Their work made the cover of prestigious scientific journal Nature on Jan 24.

Laser cooling works because when the semiconductor material absorbs the laser's light energy, it spits back more light and energy (known as luminescence) than it had absorbed from the laser. The material actually 'uses' some of its own energy for the luminescence, which then results in it having less energy and cools down as a result.