adiabatic demagnetization

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A technique for cooling a paramagnetic salt, such as potassium chrome alum, to a temperature near absolute zero. The salt is placed between the poles of an electromagnet and the heat produced during magnetization is removed by liquid helium. The salt is then isolated thermally from the surroundings and the field is switched off; the salt is demagnetized adiabatically and its temperature falls. This is because the demagnetized state, being less ordered, involves more energy than the magnetized state. The extra energy can come only from the internal, or thermal, energy of the substance.

Subjects: Chemistry — Physics.

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