(Phys.org) TU Wien, in collaboration with FU Berlin, Nanyang Technological University in Singapore and the University of Lisbon, have shown it is possible to show what possibilities arise when thermodynamics and quantum physics are combined: One can specifically use quantum effects to cool a cloud of ultracold atoms even further.
A lot of work is still needed before this new cooling concept can be turned into an actual quantum refrigerator, but initial experiments already show that the necessary steps are possible in principle.
“For a long time, thermodynamics has played an important role for classical mechanical machines—think of steam engines or combustion engines, for example. Today, quantum machines are being developed on a tiny scale. And there, thermodynamics has hardly played a role there so far” says Prof. Eisert from the Free University of Berlin.
So far, this quantum refrigerator is only a theoretical concept—but experiments have already shown that the necessary steps are feasible. “Now that we know that the idea basically works, we will try to implement it in the lab,” says Joao Sabino (TU Wien). “We hope to succeed in the near future.” That would be a spectacular step forward in cryogenic physics—because no matter what other methods you use to reach extremely low temperatures, you could always add the novel ‘quantum refrigerator’ at the end as a final additional cooling stage to make one part of the ultracold system even colder. “If it works with cold atoms, then our ideas can be implemented in many other quantum systems and lead to new quantum technology applications,” says Jörg Schmiedmayer.