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Meet the quantum fridge -- at 3 atoms in size, it's much smaller than a minibar

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Marc Anderson
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This quantum fridge won't keep your drinks cold, but it's cool proof of physics operating at the smallest scales.

Researchers have built tiny 'heat engines' before, but quantum fridges existed only as proposals until the team at the Centre for Quantum Technologies at the National University of Singapore chilled with their atoms.

The first absorption refrigerators, introduced in the 1850s, cycled the evaporation and absorption of a liquid, with cooling happening during the evaporation stage.

They were widely used to make ice and chill food into the 20th Century.

They also pulled one electron off each atom to leave them with a positive charge.

By tuning the wiggling frequencies, the researchers set up conditions for refrigeration: making it such that a phonon moving from the see-saw to the slinky mode will drag a phonon from the zig-zag mode with it.

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