Thu. Jul 18th, 2024

Scientists have developed an efficient device for quantum cooling

Natasha Kumar By Natasha Kumar Jul10,2024

Scientists have developed an effective device for quantum cooling

EPFL engineers have developed a device capable of efficiently converting heat into electrical voltage at temperatures even lower than those found in space. This breakthrough could significantly advance quantum computing technology by removing a major hurdle.

To perform quantum computing, quantum bits (qubits) must be cooled to temperatures in the millikelvin range (about -273 degrees Celsius) to reduce atomic motion and minimize noise. However, the electronics used to control these quantum circuits generate heat that is difficult to dissipate at such low temperatures. Consequently, most current technologies must decouple quantum circuits from their electronic components, leading to noise and inefficiencies that prevent the development of larger quantum systems outside the laboratory.

Researchers from Laboratory of Nanoscale Electronics and Structures (LANES) EPFL&nbsp ;led by András Kisch in the School of Engineering, they have created a device that not only works at extremely low temperatures, but does so with efficiency comparable to current technologies at room temperature.

"We are the first to create a device that matches the conversion efficiency of modern technologies, but which operates at low magnetic fields and ultra-low temperatures required for quantum systems. This work is truly a step ahead.»,— says LANES graduate student Gabriele Pasquale.

The innovative device combines the excellent electrical conductivity of graphene with the semiconductor properties of indium selenide. Only a few atoms thick, it behaves like a two-dimensional object, and this new combination of materials and structure gives it unprecedented performance. The achievement was published in Nature Nanotechnology.

Using the Nernst effect

The device uses the Nernst effect: a complex thermoelectric phenomenon that generates an electric voltage when a magnetic field is applied perpendicular to the object with variable temperature. The two-dimensionality of the laboratory device allows you to control the effectiveness of this mechanism electrically.

The 2D structure was fabricated at the EPFL Center for Micro-Nanotechnology and the LANES Laboratory. The experiments involved using a laser as a heat source and a specialized dilution refrigerator to achieve 100 millikelvins – temperatures even lower than in space. Converting heat into voltage at such low temperatures is usually extremely difficult, but the new device and the use of the Nernst effect make it possible, filling a critical gap in quantum technology.

"If you think about a laptop in a cold office, the laptop will still heat up while working, causing the temperature in the room to rise. In quantum computing systems, there is currently no mechanism to prevent this heat from affecting the qubits. Our device can provide this necessary cooling», — says Pasquale.

A physicist by training, Pasquale stresses that this research is significant because it sheds light on the conversion of thermoelectric energy at low temperatures – a phenomenon that has so far been little studied. Given the high conversion efficiency and the use of potentially technological electronic components, the LANES team also believes that their device can already be integrated into existing low-temperature quantum circuits.

«These findings represent a major advance in nanotechnology and promise the development of advanced technologies cooling required for quantum computing at temperatures of millikelvins», — says Pasquale. "We believe this achievement could revolutionize cooling systems for future technologies".

Natasha Kumar

By Natasha Kumar

Natasha Kumar has been a reporter on the news desk since 2018. Before that she wrote about young adolescence and family dynamics for Styles and was the legal affairs correspondent for the Metro desk. Before joining The Times Hub, Natasha Kumar worked as a staff writer at the Village Voice and a freelancer for Newsday, The Wall Street Journal, GQ and Mirabella. To get in touch, contact me through my 1-800-268-7116

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