Lasers have a great variety of uses, and many of them require the laser light be as pure as possible. This is not easy to achieve though, which has limited the potential for such tools as optical atomic clocks, amongst other technologies. Now researchers at Physikalisch-Technische Bundesanstalt have successfully built a new laser with unmatched stability.
Within scientific lasers are two mirrors which form an optical resonator. Such a resonator will clean out unwanted frequencies of light, which then allows the laser beam to be a single coherent color. At least in theory that is how the resonator works. Normally these mirrors are made out of glass which is quite susceptible to vibrations caused by heat. This thermal noise creates uncertainty in what frequencies are not removed. Fortunately single-crystal silicon is not as affected by thermal vibrations and is also rigid, compared to the glass.
With the level of frequency purity this new resonator allows, we could see optical atomic clocks being developed, which have the potential to be cheaper than other varieties. Any science that has to use lasers to collect information though could benefit from this new design, by reducing the error of whatever measurements the researchers make.