Heads up, science lovers: after decades of struggle, the world’s first practical maser has been built! What’s a maser, you ask? It’s like a laser, except instead of light, it produces a coherent beam of microwaves! Aaaah!
Masers have been around for over 50 years, but they needed special conditions (such as extreme cold) to work. Even then, the old masers still did not produce much microwave-y power, though they have some specific applications—like boosting signals from the Curiosity Mars rover.
That recently changed when physicist Mark Oxborrow replaced a maser’s traditional ruby with a special crystal that contains the organic molecule pentacene. Not only did Oxborrow's maser work at room temperature, but the crystal allowed it to release lots of microwaves - making it "about a hundred million times as powerful" as existing masers. I guess Oxborrow is a pretty masing scientist!
Image via The National Physical Laboratory
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