On March 13, Oliver Breunig, postdoc in the Ando lab at the Institute for Experimental Physics at the University of Cologne, invited children participating in the KölnerKinderUni (Cologne Children University) to visit Cologne’s coolest spot and have a little, yet inspiring, glimpse into quantum physics.
Oliver started with an overview on physical properties of matter and how they are strongly linked to their temperature. The participants quickly grasped that cooling down materials can change the way they behave and can enable us to use these materials for different purposes. He showed how liquid nitrogen can make balloons shrink and bananas hit a nail into a wood log. He also showed how quanta make up our world and how strangely they behave when they are kept cool. Using a model of a superconducting quantum computer, Oliver explained how a little chip at the bottom of the quantum computer needs a significantly larger cooling machine around it in order to be able to keep its quantum properties for computing purposes.
After the lively lecture, the children had a tour in the Topological Matter Laboratory Cologne (led by Professor Yoichi Ando) where they peeked inside a cleanroom (with the yellow light) and eventally saw the kryostate which cools down the probes near absolute zero.
The KölnerKinderUni was initiated by the university in 2003. It is carried out as a cooperative project by many of Cologne’s universities and scientific institutions, which are united in the so-called Kölner Wissenschaftsrunde KWR. By joining forces, the KölnerKinderUni offers an even wider range of science-oriented events for children. The events of the KölnerKinderUni are aimed at children from the third to the sixth grade. Lectures and workshops are usually offered, in individual cases also projects that run over a longer period of time.