(Rochester.edu) Researchers have conceived an idea for a refrigerator so cold it could turn atoms into their quantum states, giving them unique properties that defy the rules of classical physics. Andrew Jordan, professor of physics at the University of Rochester, and his graduate student Sreenath Manikandan, along with their colleague Francesco Giazotto from the NEST Istituto Nanoscienze-CNR and Scuola Normale Superiore in Italy, have conceived an idea for such a refrigerator, which would cool atoms to nearly absolute zero temperatures (about minus 459 degrees Fahrenheit). Scientists could use the refrigerator, which is based on the quantum property of superconductivity, to facilitate and enhance the performance of quantum sensors or circuits for ultrafast quantum computers.
“When you cool down a system to extreme temperatures, the electrons enter a quantum state where they behave more like a collective fluid that flows without resistance,” Manikandan says. “This is achieved by electrons in a superconductor forming pairs, known as cooper pairs, at very low temperatures.”