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News Link • Techno Gadgets

Tiny Quantum Refrigerator Has Super Cooling Power

• http://www.wired.com, By Nadia Drake
 Developed by scientists at the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the refrigerator’s cooling units are 48 super-slim sandwiches, arrayed on the green circuit board visible in the photo above. Each sandwich consists of a normal metal bottom layer, a nanometer-thick insulating mid-section, and a superconducting metallic top layer. Over 18 hours, it cooled the 3-millimeter-thick copper plate above to 256 mK — or -457 degrees F, scientists report in Applied Physics Letters.

The copper plate is about a million times heavier than the 48 microscopic cooling sandwiches and the aluminum heat-sinking elements extending from them.

 

Applying a voltage to the sandwiches sends hot electrons charging through the device, a trip that involves quantum tunneling through the insulated middle. Only the hottest electrons can make the one-way trip through this normally impermeable barrier. The process removes heat from the normal metal layer, which in turn drains heat from the copper plate. The removed heat is then deposited in the on-chip aluminum heat sinks.

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