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Behold, the world’s first anti-laser

anti-laser
Image used with permission by copyright holder

The danger of dying from a laser attack — or, more likely, cancer — just got a little smaller. Scientists at Yale University have successfully constructed the world’s first “anti-laser” — so called because it cancels out beams of light generated by a laser rather than emiting them, reports Wired.

While a standard laser amplifies light with the use of a “gain medium” and mirrors, and emits a beam of light that shines entirely in one direction, the anti-laser counters a laser beam with a different beam that is its exact opposite. Also, the anti-laser feeds the two beams through silicon, a “loss medium,” which causes a loss of coherence in the beam, rather than an increase.

The device, officially called the Coherent Perfect Absorber (CPA), is the brainchild of Yale physicists Hui Cao and A. Douglas Stone, who took a scattering of ideas about a possible anti-laser and turned them into a functioning contraption. Their findings originally appeared in the journal Science.

Currently the CPA can absorb 99.4 percent of all light fed into it, but the research team responsible for building it believes they can increase that number to a near-perfect 99.999 percent.

The CPA built by the Yale team measures one centimeter wide. But the team says its size can be shrunk to a mere six microns.

So what will the anti-laser be used for? Sadly, the answer probably doesn’t have to do with anything resembling intergalactic battle.

Once the predicted major shrinkage occurs, the CPA could potentially be used to create a new breed of supercomputers by integrating the technology into optical computer boards, which use light rather than electricity to operate. In addition, the researchers say CPAs could be used by the medical industry to treat cancer in a way that is currently not possible.

Most importantly, the research team believes their working device should be easy to duplicate.

“For about four months it just wasn’t working,” Stone told FoxNews.com. “Part of the problem is that all experiments just have certain imperfections that the theory doesn’t have. But we kept at it, because no one had really done anything like this before. And now that it works, it should be very easy to recreate.”

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Andrew Couts
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Features Editor for Digital Trends, Andrew Couts covers a wide swath of consumer technology topics, with particular focus on…
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