At first glance, heat and cold do not have much to do with quantum physics. A single atom is neither hot nor cold. Temperature can traditionally only be defined for objects that consist of many particles. But at TU Wien, in collaboration with FU Berlin, Nanyang Technological University in Singapore and the University of Lisbon, it has now been 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.
No matter what sophisticated cooling methods have been used before -- with this technique, which has now been presented in the scientific journal "Physical Review X-Quantum," it is possible to come a little closer to absolute zero. 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.
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