The coolest LEGO may help develop Quantum Computers

People can use LEGO bricks to create some of the coolest things out there - from a working car to a 3D printer. Just imagine what physicists can make out of these connecting bricks? Well, you won’t have to, as a team of researchers is working on making the world’s coldest refrigerator and possibly a quantum computer.

LEGO bricks have been pushed to their limits, but some ultra low-temperature physicists wanted to take these bricks even further. They wanted to see how these beloved children’s toys would react when cooled to the lowest temperature humanly possible. Enter, the dilution refrigerator.

A dilution refrigerator is a cryogenic device that can cool objects to temperatures close to absolute zero or 0K or -273.15 °C, the lowest temperature possible. The researchers at Lancaster University used their dilution refrigerator, the best in the world. Professor George Pickett from Lancaster University explained in a video that the dilution refrigerator can take objects to temperatures as low as the thousandth of a degree above absolute zero.

The LEGO survived absolute zero and the researchers published a study out of the experiment. They found in their study that LEGO provides better thermal isolation than other bulk insulator materials in temperatures approaching absolute zero, maintaining its structural integrity.

Thus, such relatively cheap blocks made from Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS) prove to be a better alternative to be used as a thermal insulator. Dr. Dmitry Zmeev from Lancaster University explained, Our results are significant because we found that the clamping arrangement between the LEGO blocks causes the LEGO structures to behave as an extremely good thermal insulator at cryogenic temperatures.

Researchers are now developing a more sophisticated structure from ABS that can be 3D-printed and used as a new thermal insulator, useful to make the next generation of dilution refrigerators.

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