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Dynamic acoustic optimization of pulse tube refrigerators for rapid cooldown

Published

Author(s)

Ryan Snodgrass, Vincent Kotsubo, Scott Backhaus, Joel Ullom

Abstract

Pulse tube refrigerators are a critical enabling technology for many disciplines that require low temperatures. These refrigerators dominate the total power consumption of most modern cryostats, including those that reach millikelvin temperatures using additional cooling stages. In state-of-the-art commercial pulse tube refrigerators, the acoustic coupling between the driving compressor and the refrigerator is fixed and optimized for operation at base temperature. We show that this optimization is incorrect during the cooldown process, which results in wasted power consumption by the compressor and slow cooldown speed. After developing analytic expressions that demonstrate the need for acoustic tuning as a function of temperature, we dynamically optimize the acoustics of a commercial pulse tube refrigerator and show that the cooldown speed can be increased to 1.7 to 3.5 times the original value. Acoustic power measurements show that loss mechanism(s)—and not the capacity of the compressor—limit the maximum cooling available at high temperatures, suggesting that even faster cooldown speeds can be achieved in the future. This work has implications for the accessibility of cryogenic temperatures and the cadence of research in many disciplines such as quantum computing.
Citation
Nature Communications
Issue
15

Keywords

Pulse tube refrigerator, compressor, thermoacoustics, cooldown speed, rapid cooldown

Citation

Snodgrass, R. , Kotsubo, V. , Backhaus, S. and Ullom, J. (2024), Dynamic acoustic optimization of pulse tube refrigerators for rapid cooldown, Nature Communications, [online], https://doi.org/10.1038/s41467-024-47561-5, https://tsapps.nist.gov/publication/get_pdf.cfm?pub_id=956909 (Accessed May 26, 2024)

Issues

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Created April 23, 2024