Instead of using lasers to heat targets, now researchers are shooting light beams that cool what they shine on.
Scientists want to see if novel refrigerators based on this research could reach temperatures just a few degrees above the coldest possible—absolute zero.
Imagine this scenario in a combat zone. An insurgent plants an explosive device on a road in the middle of the night under the veil of darkness. Meanwhile, a night-vision surveillance camera records every moment. The insurgent turns several times toward the camera, but he’s a blotchy, spectral smear. The heat signature from his face is full of information, but ultimately, it’s useless because there’s no way to run it through a mug shot database.
Being able to take a thermal image and find a match for it in a repository of photos that were taken in normal light would be a significant advance for the U.S. military. That’s why they’ve begun building a system capable of doing just that.