Aussie physicists produce the first cold-atom laser

This is quite a year for laser breakthroughs. First we had the anti-laser, and now Australian physicists have created an atom laser from extremely cold helium atoms. Conventional lasers (LASER = Light Amplification by Stimulated Emission of Radiation) produce coherent light, that is light comprised of photons that are evenly spaced instead of clustered together in groups. The Aussie physicists have managed to produce atoms that behave the same way by super-cooling them to a millionth of a degree above absolute zero (even outer space isn’t that cold). Atom lasers can be applied to nifty things like holography, which means we’re one (tiny) step closer to every Trekkie’s fantasy of visiting a Holodeck.

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