Fun but useful cooling experiment with LEGO®

Researchers at Lancaster University decided to place a LEGO® figure and four LEGO® blocks inside their record-breaking dilution refrigerator, which is capable of reaching 1.6 millidegrees above absolute zero (2,000 times colder than deep space).

The results, published in Scientific Reports, were surprising and significant because the team found that the clamping arrangement between the LEGO® blocks causes the LEGO® structures to behave as an extremely good thermal insulator at cryogenic temperatures.

The use of ABS plastic structures, such as LEGO®, instead of the solid materials currently in use, means that any future thermal insulator could be produced at a significantly reduced cost. Next step is to design and 3D-print a new thermal insulator for the next generation of dilution refrigerators.

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