“Thinking in these terms, the task of cooling is an information problem and our main insight was to understand the complexity of the task,” Masanes added.
This information theory is closely linked to the second law of thermodynamics, where quantum information has already been successfully used to prove a variety of versions. But the third law wasn’t as straightforward.
This derivation of the third law might have some technological applications, but the researchers stress that its theoretical value is currently a lot more important.
“We derived a speed limit for cooling and it is very, very fast, while we are currently in the era of horses and carts,” co-author Professor Jonathan Oppenheim told IFLScience. “Technology is currently not even close to getting near the speed limit. Although, it does give a framework for particular cooling machines.”
The research is in a way similar to the discovery of the speed of light. Knowing that there’s a limit is important even if we are nowhere near reaching it.