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Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) seek to develop a more precise definition for the standard unit of light power, the optical watt. Instead of the current definition, which is based on comparisons to electrical heating, the NIST study suggests that the optical watt could be determined from light’s radiation force and speed. “We are pursuing research to enable the radiation pressure approach to make the most accurate measurement of laser power in the world,” physicist Paul Williams said.
To measure optical power the conventional way, scientists aim a laser at a coated detector, measure the detector’s temperature change, and then determine the electrical power needed to…READ MORE