New cyrogenic refrigerator offers rapid cooling

Gaithersburg (MD) - A new high-frequency cooling device was recently demoed at the Maryland-based National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) building. The cooler tackles several ongoing challenges, including lower external temperatures, higher frequencies, and rapid cooling.

Targeted at industrial space and military applications, the "cryocooler" is able to achieve extremely cold temperatures (-370 degrees Fahrenheit) quickly, by using helium gas.

The cooler operates at 120 Hz, which is twice the speed of normal cooling devices. Accordingly, a smaller oscillator is used to generate the gas flow, cutting back on the size of the cooler.

The NIST claims this is all done without losing any efficiency, which has been a problem with smaller coolers in the past. The refrigeration process happens by expanding the hot helium gas to cool it down. Then, the gas enters the storage compartment of the cooler, enabling it to pick up and take away the heat from the object that's being cooled.

The cryocooler repeats this process at the rate of 120 times per second to cool down devices such as astronautic instruments.

Cryocooling is one of the NIST's main focuses right now, and the governmental organization says it hopes to eventually reach operating frequencies of 1000 Hz without losing any efficiency.