Updated on 14 February 2013
Laser-cooling can bring down the size of MRI machines that use liquid helium for extreme cooling
Singapore: A latest discovery by scientists from Nanyang Technological University (NTU) in Singapore related to cooling systems holds much promise for the medical devices segment. The proof that a semiconductor can be laser-cooled can help reduce the size of medical devices that require cooling. For example, it can make huge Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) machines more compact and energy-saving.
This discovery, published in Nature, of a cooling system that uses laser instead of refrigerant harmful to the ozone layer could also potentially lead to a host of other innovations.
Assistant Professor Xiong Qihua from the School of Physical and Mathematical Sciences and the School of Electrical and Electronic Engineering cooled down a semiconductor from 20 degrees celsius to minus 20 degrees Celsius with laser. Before this, the cooling of semiconductors by laser has never been proven.
The material, Cadmium Sulfide, is a type of group II-VI semiconductor commonly used in solar cells, sensors and electronics.
"If we are able to harness the power of laser cooling, it would mean that medical devices which require extreme cooling, such as MRI which uses liquid helium, could do away with their bulky refrigerant systems with just with an optical refrigeration device in its place," Prof Xiong said.