Oxborrow's device could simplify and improve masers, says Hilsum. In the long term it could find a use in communications, but it first needs to be refined.
There is plenty of room for improvement, agrees Oxborrow. Not being much of a chemist, he managed to burn the demonstration crystal as he tried to make it. "I did a bit of a crème brûlée, as it were," he says sheepishly.
Given that the singed crystal worked, he says that a more neatly made one could improve efficiency at least three fold. Hilsum adds that other tricks will be found to make the maser better. "You can be pretty sure that this is not the end of the story," he says.