A whole new kind of laser being developed at the Ames Laboratory could be a bright idea with applications for health and safety. For years now, scientists and manufacturers have been using the power of light sent through a lens to make it into a super-tight beam. But a physicist and grad student at the lab asked a computer what would happen if they focused the photons on a heap of disorganized crystals. They learned beams that are scattered actually gain energy as they’re reflected back and forth. The researchers say laser light trained on such a “disordered medium” could offer a better look inside the human body, help locate downed planes and ships, and brighten the pixels in flat-screen computer monitors.
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