2 Minutes with Sébastien Loranger
Janurary 2, 2013
Normally, shining a light on an object makes it hotter because the light energy is absorbed and converted into heat. However, intriguing new research could lead to using light as a practical way of actually cooling devices such as electronics that currently require bulky thermoelectric coolers and a fan to stay cool. Sébastien Loranger hopes to develop cost-effective cooling technology using laser light, which could revolutionize everything from high power lasers to microelectronics.
Since I was little, I've always been very interested in everything related to engineering, all things technical and technological. For a long time, I've been planning to go into engineering.
I am working on laser cooling. What does this consist of? It consists of cooling matter, i.e. any solid, using light. Simple light like you see every day. Currently, this is done using certain glasses and materials that are a bit exotic; they are not commercially available right now.
What I am trying to do in my work is to complete this process using regular glass that could – that is produced on a large scale.
What is currently being used in micro-electronics for cooling is a plate like this one, a thermoelectric cooler that can be smaller if necessary. However, the disadvantage of this technology is that as soon as one side gets very cold the other side becomes very hot so something is needed to dissipate the heat; this can be a fan like this one with a heat exchanger, which is still a large part, or, better yet, simply a heat exchanger alone.
In either case, the process requires a system that is still quite large, and impossible to miniaturize because the more heat there is to dissipate, the larger the system to be added has to be.
One possibility for laser cooling would be to replace the entire system with a simple glass plate that could be miniaturized as needed, that could be made very, very small and to which a laser source could be added, which could be, for example, a simple optical fibre connected to a glass plate. This will eventually lead to a product, a new cooling system that can be added to a number of technologies already on the market and that will open up various avenues of application.
NSERC funding allows me to work full-time on my research without having to work other jobs at the same time. As such, I could really concentrate on my research all year long and make more progress with my Master's project.