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Atom Cooling Leads to Greater Understanding of Superconductors

Atom Cooling 300x238 Atom Cooling Leads to Greater Understanding of SuperconductorsThe processes that occur when atoms cool have long eluded scientists. However, a team of researchers at The Open University believe they have developed a method to understand more about the specifics of atom cooling and hope this may one day be used to more sophisticated superconductors.

A superconductor is a material with no electrical resistance. If researchers can get superconductors to operate closer to room temperature, this would lead to greater efficiency and might change the way superconductors are understood, created, and operate.

The Open University’s Department of Physical Sciences developed the understanding of atom cooling by simulating a superconductor using a quantum simulator. Their simulator is a glorified quantum computer that allows researchers to examine specific problems; they stress that it is not a supercomputer.

Atoms that are cooled to millionths of a degree above absolute zero can be examined by the quantum simulator. The simulator is able to provide greater detail than ever observed before, thanks to laser beams that enhance the electrical forces between the atoms.

Since this understanding of cooling atoms is so new, researchers are still trying to get a handle on the information. Continued study of atoms in the quantum simulator may allow researchers to build better materials that lead to better superconductors.


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Leigh is a Senior Technical Communicator working in the energy sector in Dallas, Texas. Prior to her work in the energy industry, Leigh spent years specializing in life saving engineering projects for the US Department of Defense. In her spare time, Leigh pursues her passions of environmental awareness, vegan baking, dog rescue, and defending the place of art, literature, and music in a world that values science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

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