Breakthrough Magnetic Cooling System Pushes Quantum Computers Close To Absolute Zero
Quantum computing is incredibly complex, and if not properly harnessed, a scientist could find himself trapped in time, jumping from body to body. That's what I learned from Quantum Leap, a late 1980s and early 1990s TV show, anywa. Maybe that part about being trapped in time is fiction, but quantum computing is pretty intense, and as such it requires extreme cooling. Therein lies part of the challenge.
Researchers from the physics department at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) may have cracked the cooling code, however, to reaching a near absolute zero temperature on a permanent basis. Developed as part of a startup called "kiutra GmbH," the team says it succeeded in implementing a permanent magnetic cooling system for quantum computers.
"The team of scientist came up with the idea during their work at the TUM. Again and again, they were faced with the limits of conventional methods for reaching such low temperatures. The group therefore developed its own technology to ensure permanent cooling and founded kiutra GmbH in the summer of 2018," TUM reports.
Liquefied gases are typically used to reach ultra-low temperatures. To get close to absolute zero (-273C), researchers in the past have used helium-3, a rare and expensive isotope. Magnetic cooling offers an alternative by generating low temps using inexpensive solids, but are not feasible for long-term use—they're only good for a limited period of time.
Permanent magnetic cooling is the solution, but up to this point, actually implementing such a cooling system has proven difficult. Not anymore, apparently.
"We are the world's first commercial supplier of a cooling system that can magnetically achieve temperatures close to absolute zero on a permanent basis," says Alexander Regnat, one of the researchers. "Our great advantage is that we do not need expensive helium-3. All we need is electricity."
With the problem of cooling out of the way, now the researchers just need to be careful not to get stuck in time.
Thumbnail/Top Image Source: Wenzel Schürmann / TUM