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article imageScientists create the 'coolest' LEGO in the universe

By Tim Sandle     Dec 27, 2019 in Science
In a new study, LEGO has been cooled to the lowest temperature possible. A LEGO figure together with four blocks have been taken down to 1.6 millidegrees above absolute zero (minus 273.15 Centigrade). Interesting, but so is the purpose of the study.
It may seem a strange question - "does LEGO have a role in quantum computing?" - and the answer is perhaps stranger still - "it depends on how low a temperature LEGO can be taken to". In terms of the temperature, this is close to the lowest possible, with LEGO bricks together with a figurine been taken to a temperature that is some 200,000 times colder than room temperature (or 2,000 times colder than the temperatures in deep space).
The process was achieved using a record-breaking dilution refrigerator located at Lancaster University, U.K. This is the most effective refrigerator in the world, and it can take objects down to 1.6 millidegrees above absolute zero (minus 273.15 Centigrade).
The following video explains the experiment in further detail:
According to principal scientist, Dr Dmitry Zmeev: "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."
In terms of the significance of the study, the researchers are on the hunt for construction materials that can be used for future scientific equipment such as dilution refrigerators and for quantum computing. It seems that the humble LEGO brick fits the bill.
This is because Acrylonitrile Butadiene Styrene (ABS) plastic structures (of which LEGO is a prime example) can be produced (by 3D printing) at a vastly lower cost compared with more conventional materials used as thermal insulators.
The research has been published in the journal Scientific Reports and the paper is titled "LEGO® Block Structures as a Sub-Kelvin Thermal Insulator."
More about Lego, quantum computing, Computing
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