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We're on a TV show for kids

5 December 2016

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Manas Mukerhjee presents CQT's laser cooling powers to the hosts of Make me a Super

Advertising image for Make me a Super Make me a Super hosts in CQT lab with Manas Mukherjee Still from animation showing how light can cool down atoms

CQT Principal Investigator Manas Mukherjee has starred on TV show Make me a Super, a series about science for kids aged 7 up. The show's hosts search out science that is similar to the powers of superheroes.

For the series' episode 5 on cryo powers, Manas showed how CQT uses laser cooling to reduce the temperature of atoms close to absolute zero – making CQT literally the coolest place on the equator.

Make me a Super screened on Singapore channel okto. The episode featuring Manas first aired on 30 November and remains available to watch on demand on Toggle.sg.

Why so cold?

Series hosts Nash and Dr K came to CQT to "meet one real cool cat", aka Manas, who explains that he uses lasers to cool atomic samples. "Lasers, I think you've got it wrong Prof Manas, lasers make things hot!," says Dr K... As the visit continues, they learn how laser cooling works and see the lab where Manas makes Barium ions colder than outer space ‐ -273.15°C.

"What's the application of this? Why do you need to research on such cold temperatures?" asks Nash. "The basis of the universe is atoms, so if we can study atoms we can know about the Universe. On the other side, you can actually use the atoms to make one of the fastest ever computers in the world. It's called a quantum computer," explains Manas.

But this kind of cooling technique won't work for monsters or people, Manas explains, because they do not have a characteristic wavelength of light that they will absorb.

CQT's diverse talents

"Manas, with his pedagogical skills and good-natured demeanor, can appeal to kids and adults alike. He has all the ingredients of a TV celebrity! I am proud to have so many diverse talents at CQT," says CQT's Director Artur Ekert.

The filming was carried out over a weekend in August, taking some seven hours to collect footage that distilled down to a ten-minute segment. Manas also advised on the creation of an animation showing how atoms are cooled.

"I underestimated the time it would take but it all went smoothly. It was a nice experience to work with kids for a kids educational program," says Manas. The images on the right are stills from the episode.