In a major advance for cryogenics, researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have developed a compact, solid-state refrigerator capable of reaching temperatures as low as 100 milliKelvin. The refrigerator works by removing hot electrons in a manner similar to an evaporative air-conditioner or "swamp cooler."
When combined with an X-ray sensor, also being developed at NIST, the instrument will be useful in semiconductor manufacturing for identifying trace contaminants and in the astronomical community for X-ray telescopes. The device can be made in a wide range of sizes and shapes, as well as readily integrated with other cryogenic devices ranging in size from nano-meters to millimeters.
A report of the work is featured on the cover of the January 26, 2004, issue of Applied Physics Letters. "The idea is to use a solid-state refrigerator for on-chip cooling of these cryogenic sensors," says Anna M. Clark, the reports lead author. "We have a working refrigerator that reduces temperatures low enough to be used with highly sensitive X-ray detectors. These detectors require subKelvin temperatures to minimize thermal noise and maximize their resolution."
Gail Porter | EurekAlert!
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