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Space cryogenics and cryo-refrigerators

Published on 30 August 2022
The “Cryocoolers and Space Cryogenics” laboratory is dedicated to the development of cryorefrigerators - systems designed to cool down to cryogenic temperatures (below 120 K) - and specific components (thermal switches, thermal links,...). The work is focused on smaller sized systems, typically ready to meet laboratory needs, small physical experiments or satellite cryocoolers. Emphasis is placed on achieving innovative systems or meeting very specific needs, such as operating in a space environment or on isolated telescopes.

Different types of refrigerators have been developed in the past and our fields of activity today focus on two main temperature ranges: refrigeration from 4 K to 120 K for which pulsed gas tubes are a very suitable technology, and the subKelvin range. For these our works include the adsorption refrigerator and adiabatic demagnetization.

Pictures. Left: two-stage pulse tube. Right: 50 mK Hybrid Cooler.

In addition to cryocooler developments, our work includes specific research on multiphase thermal links, including ambient temperature operation.

Finally, we are developing specific cryostats and working on the integration of cryogenic components into larger scale designs, such as space instruments. (picture below: cryostat).

In summary, our actions range from the research on the concept to the production and validation of laboratory prototypes to the involvement in large scientific projects and the production of flight models. We seek when possible to transfer our developments to the industry for a space application or generic ground needs. The specificity of these developments is the great variety of skills involved including in addition to thermal and cryogenics, magnetism, mechanics of solids and fluids and many more.