According to a recent research paper published in Physical Review Applied, a group of researchers has introduced idea of a quantum refrigerator which could be used to cool atoms to near absolute zero temperature. If the refrigerator becomes a reality, scientists would be able to enhance the performance of quantum sensor or circuits for ultra fast quantum computers.
In case you are wondering, superconductivity refers to the characteristic of a material with perfect conductivity. Conductivity refers to the quality of materials which allows electricity to pass through a material. For example, metals are considered to be materials with high conductivity. However, all of the known materials have resistance while carrying electricity. In case of superconductor, the materials can carry electricity without resistance or without losing any energy.
As for the refrigerator in question, it uses the principles of superconductivity to operate and generate ultra-cold environment. The environment is necessary for generating quantum effects which are essential for quantum technologies. If the technology becomes a reality, it would allow scientists to change materials into superconductors.
Talking about the concept, Andrew Jordan, professor of physics at the University of Rochester said, “What your kitchen fridge has in common with our superconducting refrigerators is that it uses a phase transition to get a cooling power.”
“Refrigerators don’t create cold out of nothing. There’s a principle of conservation of energy. Heat is a kind of energy, so the fridge takes heat from one region of space and takes it to another region.”
“You use a kitchen refrigerator to cool down your food. But this is a super, super cold refrigerator.” Instead of storing food, the superconducting quantum refrigerator could be used to store things like qubits, the basic units of quantum computers, by placing them on top of the stack of metals. Researchers could also use the fridge to cool quantum sensors, which measure light very efficiently and are useful in studying stars and other galaxies and could be used to develop more efficient deep tissue imaging in MRI machines.
“It’s really kind of amazing to think about how this works. It’s all basically taking energy and converting it into a transformative heat.”