Micromachined Joule-Thomson coolers for cooling low-temperature detectors and electronics

H. J.M. Ter Brake, P. P.P.M. Lerou, J. F. Burger, H. J. Holland, J. H. Derking, H. Rogalla

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionAcademicpeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


The performance of electronic devices can often be improved by lowering the operating temperature resulting in lower noise and larger speed. Also, new phenomena can be applied at low temperatures, as for instance superconductivity. In order to fully exploit lowtemperature electronic devices, the cryogenic system (cooler plus interface) should be 'invisible' to the user. It should be small, low-cost, low-interference, and above all very reliable (long-life). The realization of cryogenic systems fulfilling these requirements is the topic of research of the Cooling and Instrumentation group at the University of Twente. A MEMS-based cold stage was designed and prototypes were realized and tested. The cooler operates on basis of the Joule-Thomson effect. Here, a high-pressure gas expands adiabatically over a flow restriction and thus cools and liquefies. Heat from the environment (e.g., an optical detector) can be absorbed in the evaporation of the liquid. The evaporated working fluid returns to the low-pressure side of the system via a counter-flow heat exchanger. In passing this heat exchanger, it takes up heat from the incoming high-pressure gas that thus is precooled on its way to the restriction. The cold stage consists of a stack of three glass wafers. In the top wafer, a high-pressure channel is etched that ends in a flow restriction with a height of typically 300 nm. An evaporator volume crosses the center wafer into the bottom wafer. This bottom wafer contains the lowpressure channel thus forming a counter-flow heat exchanger. A design aiming at a net cooling power of 10 mW at 96 K and operating with nitrogen as the working fluid was optimized based on the minimization of entropy production. The optimum cold finger measures 28 mm x 2.2 mm x 0.8 mm operating with a nitrogen flow of 1 mg/s at a high pressure of 80 bar and a low pressure of 6 bar. The design and fabrication of the coolers will be discussed along with experimental results.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationInternational Conference on Space Optics, ICSO 2008
ISBN (Electronic)9781510616219
Publication statusPublished - 21 Nov 2017
EventInternational Conference on Space Optics 2008, ICSO 2008 - Toulouse, France
Duration: 14 Oct 200817 Oct 2008


ConferenceInternational Conference on Space Optics 2008, ICSO 2008
Abbreviated titleICSO 2008


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