The Helium Shortage’s Impact on Health, Cryogenics, and Quantum Computing

Sarah Wall

The helium shortage's impact on health, cryogenics and quantum computing









As a result of a global shortage of helium, we are facing an interesting, but troubling problem. This may not

appear to be an immediate or widespread concern, but it certainly is. The purpose of this blog is to talk about why Helium is so important to Quantum Technology, Cryogenics, and Healthcare, and how we can navigate this challenge.


Helium in Quantum Technology:


Superconducting circuits are crucial to quantum computers, which are being widely hailed as the future of complex problem-solving. These circuits need to be cooled to extremely cool temperatures, and helium is used to keep them frosty!  In other words, helium shortages could stifle the development of quantum computers, affecting key areas like cryptography, optimization, and simulation.



Helium in Healthcare:


What about the world of healthcare? The Magnetic Resonance Image (MRI) machines used in healthcare for diagnosing an enormous number of issues in the body rely on powerful magnets that also need extreme cooling; it’s done with Helium currently. With helium shortages on the horizon, MRI machines will be hard to come by, causing delays in diagnoses and treatments. Cryogenics is also widely used in Healthcare and, this too, will be heavily impacted by the imminent Helium shortage.


Helium in Cryogenics:


In cryogenics, helium plays a crucial role in storing biological samples and tissues and in cryopreservation techniques for transplanting organs, fertility treatments, and stem cell research. A helium shortage raises questions about the reliability of cryogenic systems, a crucial part of medical research.



Possible Solutions:


How can this complex problem be solved? Researchers and industry professionals are searching for alternative cooling technologies and cryogens to reduce our dependence on helium. Alternatives, like anything, have their own issues, such as being more complicated, more expensive, or less efficient.


We also need to look at boosting helium production, getting better at recycling it, and using it more wisely. It’s not a one-person job. To effectively address the problem, industry, academia and government departments must work together.


In Summary, the helium shortage isn’t just an issue for balloon vendors. Healthcare and tech sectors face serious problems due to it, slowing down quantum computer advances and disrupting MRIs. Cryogenics, essential for medical procedures and research, is also at risk. To handle this, we need to look for other ways to keep things cool, produce more helium, recycle it better, and not waste it. It’s a tall order, but if we work together, we can keep our tech cool and our healthcare running smoothly.