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MASER power comes out of the cold
Date:8/16/2012

e MASER has been the forgotten, inconvenient cousin of the LASER. Our design breakthrough will enable MASERs to be used by industry and consumers."

Professor Neil Alford, co-author and Head of the Department of Materials at Imperial College London, adds: "When LASERs were invented no one quite knew exactly how they would be used, and yet the technology flourished to the point that LASERs have now become ubiquitous in our everyday lives. We've still got a long way to go before the MASER reaches that level, but our breakthrough does mean that this technology can literally come out of the cold and start becoming more useful."

Conventional MASER technology using hard inorganic crystals such as ruby, only works when the ruby is kept at a very low temperature. The team in today's study have discovered that a completely different type of crystal, namely p-terphenyl doped with pentacene, can replace ruby and replicate the same masing process at room temperature.

As a curious twist, the pentacene dopant turns the otherwise colourless p-terphenyl crystal an intense reddish pink making it look just like ruby!

The twin challenges the team currently face are getting the MASER to work continuously, as their first device only works in pulsed mode for fractions of a second at a time. They also aim to get it to operate over a range of microwave frequencies, instead of its current narrow bandwidth, which would make the technology more useful.

In the long-term, the team have a range of other goals including the identification of different materials that can mase at room temperature while consuming less power than pentacene-doped p-terphenyl. The team will also focus on creating new designs that could make the MASER smaller and more portable.


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Contact: David Lewis
david@proofcommunication.com
44-845-680-1865
National Physical Laboratory
Source:Eurekalert

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