Lego toys can be used to build quantum computers as they can survive temperatures 2,000 times colder than deep space: Experts

According to the researchers, Lego was cooled to the lowest temperature possible in their experiment, and its special properties mean it could be useful in the development of quantum computing.


                            Lego toys can be used to build quantum computers as they can survive temperatures 2,000 times colder than deep space: Experts
Researchers Josh Chawner and Dmitry Zmeev from Lancaster University with the Lego. (Lancaster University)

The world's favorite Lego toys have a hidden superpower. They can survive temperatures that are 200,000 times colder than room temperature and 2,000 times colder than deep space, researchers have found.

This resilience implies that Lego toys can be used to help build more efficient quantum computers, say experts. What is more, according to the research team from Lancaster University, these toys can pull this off at lower costs.

Quantum computers have the potential to solve complex problems in seconds. Modern computers, on the other hand, could take years. But building practical quantum computers is a challenge. These devices are way too sensitive to their surroundings — too much heat, for instance, can prevent quantum computers from operating efficiently. To make these devices immune to their surroundings, scientists are on the lookout for suitable materials that can cool the system down.

This resilience means LEGO toys can pave the way for the next wave of computing: quantum computers, say experts. (Getty Images)

While suitable materials do exist, they have limitations. "The best materials for these applications are very expensive and are difficult to machine to a needed shape, so it would be desirable to come up with a better solution," Dr Dmitry Zmeev, who led the research team, told MEA WorldWide (MEAWW).

This led Zmeev and his colleagues to hunt for an alternative material. They specifically looked for strong materials that could prevent heat from moving around at very low temperatures.

And Lego toys fit the bill. The Lego blocks looked like good candidates: the contact area — between two Lego blocks that are clamped together — is very small, which could prevent the transfer of heat. This means if these materials find use in quantum computers, they could prevent heat from moving around, and thereby preventing heat from interfering with the functioning of quantum computers, say experts.

When the team tested blocks at very low temperatures, they survived unscathed. "The resulting structure is very robust. And indeed, our measurements confirmed this," Zmeev told MEAWW.

In the future, Zmeev and the team will perform this experiment again, albeit by tweaking it a little. "While it’s unlikely that Lego blocks will be used as a part of a quantum computer, we have found the right direction for creating these cheap materials: 3D printing," says Zmeev. "Lego is made from ABS plastic and one can also create ABS structures simply by 3D printing them," says Zmeev,

The study has been published in Scientific Reports.

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