|Researchers in Singapore have built a refrigerator that’s just three atoms big.|
|This quantum fridge won’t keep your drinks cold, but it’s cool proof of physics operating at the smallest scales. The work is described in a paper published in Nature Communications (“Quantum absorption refrigerator with trapped ions”).|
|Researchers have built tiny ‘heat engines’ before, but quantum fridges existed only as proposals until the team at the Centre for Quantum Technologies at the National University of Singapore chilled with their atoms.|
|The device is an “absorption refrigerator”. It works without moving parts, using heat to drive a cooling process.The first absorption refrigerators, introduced in the 1850s, cycled the evaporation and absorption of a liquid, with cooling happening during the evaporation stage. They were widely used to make ice and chill food into the 20th Century. Albert Einstein even held a patent on an improved design.
Today’s fridges and air conditioners more often use a compressor, but absorption refrigerators still have their uses – science experiments included.
First, the researchers caught and held three atoms of the element Ytterbium in a metal chamber from which they’d removed all the air. They also pulled one electron off each atom to leave them with a positive charge. The charged atoms – called ions – can then be held in place with electric fields. Meanwhile, the researchers nudge and zap the ions with lasers to bring them into their lowest energy state of motion. The result is that the ions are suspended almost perfectly still, strung out in a line.
Image Credit: Centre for Quantum Technologies, National University of Singapore
News This Week
“The most crucial result of this work is the correlation between form and function in supercapacitor materials,” states first author Dina Ibrahim Abouelamaiem. She elaborates that “our research is driven by the need for [...]
“We’ll have nanobots that… connect our neocortex to a synthetic neocortex in the cloud. Our thinking will be a…. biological and non-biological hybrid.” Ray Kurzweil, TED 2014 UPDATE - June 18 2019 Since [...]
A new study by the Environmental Working Group reveals that: “Major food companies like General Mills continue to sell popular children’s breakfast cereals and other foods contaminated with troubling levels of glyphosate, the cancer-causing [...]
A nanotechnology treatment derived from bone marrow stem cells has reversed multiple sclerosis symptoms in mice and could eventually be used to help humans, according to a new study led by University of California, [...]
In a paper published this week in Nature ("Freestanding crystalline oxide perovskites down to the monolayer limit"), materials science researchers at the University of California, Irvine and other institutions unveil a new process for [...]
New research provides insight into the structure of silicon nanocrystals, a substance that promises to provide efficient lithium ion batteries that power your phone to medical imaging on the nanoscale. The research was conducted [...]
Several space missions, planned by both the European Space Agency and NASA, have their target set on Jupiter and its moons. The extraordinarily harsh radiation environments in the Jovian system will set some strict [...]
rance is clamping down on a common food additive that has been shown to be carcinogenic in animal studies. The ban of titanium dioxide, announced by the French government last month, follows a review [...]
Today’s societies critically depend on electronic systems. Past spectacular cyber-attacks have clearly demonstrated the vulnerability of existing systems and the need to prevent such attacks in the future. The majority of available cyber-defenses concentrate [...]
Researchers of the Nanoscience Center (NSC) at the University of Jyväskylä, Finland, and in the Xiamen University, China, have discovered how copper particles at the nanometre scale operate in modifying a carbon–oxygen bond when [...]
Cells in the body are wired like computer chips to direct signals that instruct how they function, research suggests (Nature Communications, “The cell-wide web coordinates cellular processes by directing site-specific Ca2+ flux across cytoplasmic [...]
We may be able to detect cancer soon by simply peeing on a stick. - Cancer is an aberrant function of a normal cell, where the regulators of that cell's dividing are broken [...]
Microcontaminants place a considerable burden on our water courses, but removing them from wastewater requires considerable technical resources. Now, ETH researchers have developed an approach that allows the efficient removal of these problematic [...]