CryoTel® Applications

Thanks to the CryoTel cryocooler’s reputation for quality, reliability, performance, and efficiency, they are being used in the following applications:

  • Medical
  • Pharmaceutical Processing
  • Aerospace
  • Astronomical Telescopes
  • Telecommunications
  • Research & Development
  • High-Temperature Superconductivity
  • Radiation Detection
  • Infrared Detection
  • Security
  • Gas Liquefaction
  • SQUID Detection
  • Optics
  • Low-Noise Amplifiers
  • Biological Cooling
  • Semiconductor Manufacturing
  • Imaging Spectroscopy
  • Mass Spectrometry
  • Nuclear Magnetic Radiation
  • Refrigeration
  • Environmental Testing
  • Laser Cooling
  • Ultra-High Vacuum Cold Trap
  • Gas Chromatography
  • Satellites
  • RF Receivers

Germanium DetectorsGeGi3

Sunpower CryoTel® cryocoolers are used in many of the leading High Purity Germanium (HPGe) detectors that are used to detect nuclear radiation. These detectors are used for gamma spectroscopy, chemical weapons identification, counting laboratories, homeland security, neutron detection, scientific research, waste assay, whole body counting, educational experiments, and radiation food monitoring.  High power density, high reliability,  and  efficient operation are required for many HPGe applications and CryoTel cryocoolers have proven to be excellent choices for these applications.


 MOBIUS Recycler

The ORTEC Mobius Recycler is recognized as the system to rely on when system failure is not an option.  A CryoTel GT is used in conjunction with a 28 liter liquid nitrogen Dewar to provide long-term operation at 77 Kelvin.

Sunpower played a key role in the development and optimization of this product which has enjoyed strong customer endorsement.  The addition of a CryoTel GT cryocooler allows the end customer to go from weekly liquid nitrogen refills to yearly refills.  This operations advantage pays back in reduced down time, reduced materials costs, and reduced maintenance/support costs.  At full power the CryoTel GT consumes only 240W input power.


Integrated Cryocooling System (ICS)3077 b

The ORTEC Integrated Cryocooling System was released in September 2014 and is being advertised as able to offer “premium detector resolution” without needing to rely on LN2 to attain low vibration.  The reason they are able to offer this level of performance is due to the Active Vibration Cancellation (AVC) technology developed by Sunpower.  This technology enables the customer to maintain the resolution performance of LN2 cooled systems in all operational orientations.

Sunpower played a key role in developing the AVC technology that this product relies on to attain the stated performance. This product will allow the customer to sell their product into markets where LN2 is not readily available or undesirable due to cost, maintenance, or safety concerns.



High-Temperature Superconducting (HTS)

Sunpower CryoTel® Cryocoolers are used in several HTS applications currently in development such as  HTS communication filters, SQUID detectors, HTS motors, HTS bearings, maglev, and HTS degaussing. Sunpower is eager to work with developers in the HTS market.



Pharmaceutical Mixer

The Sunpower CryoTel® Cryocooler is an integral part of an innovative product that was one of the first commercially available HTS products on the market.  This product consists of an interchangeable superconducting drive unit and a levitating impeller based disposable mixing bags. The activation of the motor induces the levitation and rotation of the in-bag impeller resulting in effective mixing action inside a hermetically sealed bag.

Sunpower worked closely with the inventors of this technology to develop a robust solution that met their needs.  The integrated cryocooler system has provided the O.E.M. customer years of selling reliable, maintenance-free equipment that did not end up coming back for repairs.


 Superconducting Quantum Interference Device (SQUID)AFM view of a SQUID

A superconducting quantum interference device (SQUID) is a device used to measure extremely weak signals, specifically magnetic flux. It can detect subtle changes in energy, up to 100 billion times weaker than the electromagnetic energy required to move a compass needle. SQUIDs are used for a variety of applications where extreme sensitivity is required and where direct contact is not possible. Sunpower CryoTel cryocoolers are incorporated into commercial and military products incorporating SQUID technology.  The CryoTel’s robustness to mechanical shock was essential in passing the required Mil-SPEC testing for some of the SQUID applications.

Astronomical Telescopes

Radio Astronomy

 Many of the major Radio Astronomy projects in the world use Sunpower CryoTel® Cryocoolers to bring hardware down to cryogenic temperatures. These telescopes will support a variety of scientific endeavors, including the how stars and galaxies are formed, how they evolve over time, detection of life elsewhere, and support of science in the visual spectrum.


One of several radio telescope arrays using Sunpower Cryocoolers is the KAT-7 telescope array, shown below. KAT-7 is a radio telescope array constructed in the Northern Cape of South Africa.   KAT-7 is the first Radio telescope to be built with a composite reflector and uses a stirling pump for cryogenic cooling – operating at 75K. KAT-7 consist of 7 dishes of 12 meters in diameter each a Prime Focus Reflecting telescope.

KAT-7 supports a wide range of observing modes, including deep continuum, polarization and spectral line imaging, pulsar timing and transient searches. A range of standard data products are provided, including an imaging pipeline. A number of “data spigots” are also available to support user-provided instrumentation. Significant design and qualification efforts are planned to ensure high reliability in order to achieve low operational cost and high availability.

For more information on KAT-7  please visit here.


The Galactic Emission Mapping (GEM) Radio Telescope measures the radio emission of our galaxy in five frequencies, between 408 MHz and 10 GHz, from different places of the earth. This data will be used to calibrate other telescopes, more specifically the Plank Surveyor, and will give the means to filter the Cyclotron Radiation and the free free radiation from other maps in a way that the only radiation left on the map is the Cosmic Microwave Background.

The telescope is in construction at Pampilhosa da Serra, Portugal, but the receptor has already made measurements in Cachoeira Paulista, (Brasil), in Antártica, in Bishop (U.S.A.), Villa de Leyva (Colômbia) and in Tenerife (Canary Islands). The main reflector has a parabolic form of 5,5m of diameter.[3]

The telescope was projected and is operated by an international collaboration coordinated by the University of California, Berkeley and by the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, under the guidance of George Smoot, awarded with the Nobel Prize in Physics in 2006.

In Brasil, the radio telescope is under the responsibility of the Instituto Nacional de Pesquisas Espaciais ( National Institute of Spacial Research) and counts with the participation of the Astrophysics group of the Universidade Federal de Itajubá (Itajubá Federal University). Portugal joined the project in 2005 through the Instituto de Telecomunicações of Aveiro (Telecommunications institute of Aveiro), who is responsible for the planning and construction of the radio telescope.

The GEM Telescope uses a CryoTel GT cryocooler.

SETI Allen Telescope Array

The Allen Telescope Array (ATA)  is a radio interferometer that is dedicated to cutting-edge astronomical research and a simultaneous search for signals of intelligent, extraterrestrial origin. It is at the Hat Creek Radio Observatory, 290 miles northeast of San Francisco, California and will be composed of 350 antennas at completion. The ATA advances the field of radio astronomy.

The ATA has four primary advantages for scientific studies over all major radio telescopes built to date: a very wide field of view (2.45° at λ = 21 cm), complete instantaneous frequency coverage from 0.5 to 11.2 GHz, multiple simultaneous backends, and active interference mitigation. The instantaneous area of sky imaged is 17 times that of the Very Large Array. The instantaneous frequency coverage of more than four octaves is memo90unprecedented in radio astronomy and is the result of a unique feed, input amplifier, and signal path design. Active interference mitigation will make it possible to observe even at the frequencies of many terrestrial radio emitters.

The operator of the ATA, SRI International, selected a CryoTel GT to cool the low noise amplifier in the ATA feed down to 70K.  Currently there are 42 dishes incorporating a CryoTel GT cryocooler with plans to build a total of 350 dishes.


IR Telescopes


GPI’s first light image of the light scattered by a disk of dust orbiting the young star HR4796A is shown on the right. The traditional method or observation is shown on the left.

Gemini Planet Imager

The Gemini Planet Imager (GPI) is a high contrast imaging instrument being built for the Gemini South Telescope in Chile. The instrument will achieve high contrast at small angular separations, allowing for the direct imaging and integral field spectroscopy of extrasolar planets around nearby stars. The collaboration involved in planning and building the Gemini Planet imager includes the American Museum of Natural History (AMNH), Dunlap Institute, Gemini Observatory, Herzberg Institute of Astrophysics (HIA), Jet Propulsion Laboratory, Lawrence Livermore National Lab (LLNL), Lowell Observatory, SETI Institute, The Space Telescope Science Institute (STSCI), the University of Montreal, University of California, Berkeley, University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA), University of California, Santa Cruz (UCSC), University of Georgia.


The main scientific goal of the GPI will be to find planets outside of our solar system.  Historically this has been a technical challenge as the light from the star that the planet is rotating will emit light that is many magnitudes greater than the light reflected by the planet.  The GPI will incorporate several technologies that will enable scientists to image the planets and build on our understanding of how solar systems evolve.

The GPI uses optics cooled to cryogenic temperatures to reduce the IR light contamination.  They needed a cooler that had a small form factor yet high heat lift, and could be counted on to provide reliable cooling for years.  They did not want to hassle with compressor lines or pay for yearly maintenance and high electrical costs.  The cooler they choose was the CryoTel GT.  For more information on the Gemini Planet Imager, please see here.



SOAR EXBombolo

Bombolo is a new astronomical multi-band pass instrument that will be used at the SOAR 4M Telescope in Chile.  It is a three-arm imager covering the near-UV and optical wavelengths.  The three arms work simultaneously and independently, providing synchronized imaging capability for rapid astronomical events.

The Bombolo optical design consists of a wide field collimator feeding two dychroic filters at 390 and 550 nm. Each arm includes a filter wheel and a science CCD with a CryoTel MT cryocooler, imaging a 7 x 7 arcmin2 field of view.


High Elevation Antarctic Terahertz (HEAT) Telescope

PLATO_HEAT_RidgeAThe HEAT Telescope operates in Antarctica, exploiting the exceptional cold, dry climate and clear atmosphere to construct a spectroscopic map of the Milky Way at terahertz frequencies (far-infrared wavelengths). HEAT uses a CryoTel® CT to cool its infrared detector. As the telescope, and thus the cryocooler, must operate 24/7 for a year at a time with no human contact, the reliability and efficiency of the CryoTel® CT makes it an excellent match for this application.
Established in collaboration with the University of Arizona (US) and the University of New South Wales (Australia), the HEAT telescope is exploring star-forming regions and aims to contribute to solving the mystery of how interstellar clouds are formed and how they evolve.
The telescope is located at Ridge A, which has been identified from satellite data as the best location on Earth for astronomical research. The site is approximately 1,000 miles from the South Pole at an elevation of 4,040 meters (13,260 ft), and has an average winter temperature of −70 °C.
The CryoTel® CT has been operating since January 2012 providing key data for astrophysicists around the world to help us better understand how our galaxy was formed. For more information on the HEAT Telescope, please visit here.

Discovery Channel Telescopeimages

Lowell Observatory has completed the Discovery Channel Telescope (DCT) after 10 years of planning and construction, and an investment of $53 million. Perched high on the Mogollon Rim, the DCT is the 5th largest telescope in the continental U.S. and one of the most technologically advanced. With this cutting-edge telescope, Lowell Observatory will continue its 118-year history of astronomical research.

The DCT is designed to support a variety of optical configurations. The phase one configuration will be ideal for high-resolution imaging and spectroscopy both at visible and the near-infrared wavelengths. The telescope is designed to allow a very large, 2-degree field of view in its prime focus implementation – a possible future upgrade. Accordingly, the DCT will feature exceptional ability to perform deep imaging surveys of the night sky, while retaining the ability to be switched to the alternate Ritchey-Chrétien mode, allowing it, unlike pure survey telescopes, to be highly effective during the bright phases of the Moon.

horseheadThe CryoTel GT is cooling the CCD for the The Large Monolithic Imager (LMI), funded by a grant from the National Science Foundation, is the DCT’s workhorse instrument, featuring a 36 megapixel CCD with a field of view of nearly 13 arc minutes. It is mounted on the back of the instrument cube, at the straight-through position, with other instruments soon to be arrayed around the side ports. Lowell astronomer and instrument Principal Investigator Philip Massey has assembled gallery of commissioning images for you to enjoy and download.

For more information about the DCT please see here.


Imaging Spectroscopy

applications_clip_image008AVIRIS-Airborne Visible/Infrared Imaging Spectrometer

The CryoTel® is integrated into the next generation AVIRIS instrument, built by NASA/JPL.  The main objective of the instrumnet is to measure spectra as images that record the interaction of light with matter.  These spectra are used to identify, measure, and monitor constituents of the Earth’s surface and atmosphere.

Hyperspectral imaging is used for the following applications:

  • Agriculture – Able to determine the health of crops.
  • Mineralogy – Can detect the presence of certain minerals under the ground.
  • Surveillance – This technology draws information from such a large portion of the light spectrum that any given object will have a unique spectral signature and it is difficult to employ counter hyperspectral tactics such as with thermal or IR technology. The raid on Osama Bin Laden’s compound was aided by Hyperspectral imaging.
  • Physics – Used to identify material components at the molecular level and provides information that other technologies, such as an electron microscope, cannot.
  • Chemical Imaging – Determines the presence of certain chemicals; very useful for biological warfare threats.
  • Environment – Can detect emissions components.

The AVIRIS is a proven instrument in the realm of Earth Remote Sensing that has flown on Twin Otter International’s turboprop platform.  The Instrument designers used (2) CryoTel GT’s with a total lift of 16W each @ 77K to meet the tight performance, size, weight, and reliability requirements.  To learn more about the AVIRIS instrument go here.


The HyperSpectral Imager for Climate Science (HySICS) Instrument Incubator Project consisted of two scientific balloon launches carrying a spectrometer capable of measuring outgoing Earth-reflected radiation with unprecedented accuracy relative to the incident sunlight. Carried in a LASP-built gondola, the two experiments flew successfully on high altitude balloons in September 2013 and August 2014.

The intent of HySICS is to demonstrate radiometric accuracies better than 0.2% in the shortwave spectral region (350 – 2,300 nm) at resolutions <8 nm, as identified by the 2007 NRC’s Decadal Survey “Earth Science and Applications from Space” as necessary for Earth climate science. The instrument images scenes onto a single focal plane array which covers this solar and near infrared spectral region containing most of the Sun’s emitted energy. Using a single array allows HySICS to be smaller and lighter than other spatial/spectral imager designs, enabling cost, mass, volume, and power savings for space-based Earth Observing missions.

During the second HySICS flight, the team was able to collect high-quality radiance measurements throughout the nearly nine-hour flight, in anKopp_Presentation effort to acquire the most accurate space-borne radiance measurements ever made of Earth. The data HySICS collected will help demonstrate the ability to achieve the radiometric accuracy levels needed for climate science using the Sun as an on-orbit radiometric reference.

 A space-based version of HySICS could provide an accurate baseline of current Earth radiometric conditions so that we can monitor climate changes and eventually help understand the extent and causes of climate change. The instrument relies on precise radiance measurements of the Sun relative to Earth scenes. These accurate relative measurements link the Earth measurements to the accurate solar spectral irradiances that other high accuracy space assets provide. Based on accurate solar calibrations, the HySICS radiometric measurements of the Earth can thus establish a long-term data record that is roughly ten times more accurate than current measurements.

The HySICS mission required a cryocooler capable of high power density, high efficiency and high reliability.  The CryoTel MT was chosen and met all of the required objectives.

IMG_4673AToMS-Airborne Taxonomic Mapping System

The AToMS instrument was developed by the Carnegie Airborne Observatory to create the world’s most advanced measurements of ecosystem chemistry, structure, biomass, and biodiversity.  The potential applications range from climate change mitigation to sustainable forest management and habitat conservation.  The AToMS instrument integrates the world’s first Very High Fidelity Visible-Shortwave Infrared (VSWIR) Imaging Spectrometer, waveform Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR) system, and high-resolution Visible-to-Near Infrared (VNIR) imaging spectrometer.

The AToMS instrument is housed in an airplane that can be dispatched anywhere in the world to take measurements. The cryocooler requirements were:

  • high performance
  • low input power
  • long life
  • high reliability

The AToMS instrument uses two CryoTel GT cryocoolers which have performed admirable since the first launch in 2011.   To learn more about the AToMS instrument and the Carnegie Airborne Observatory please go here. 


Sunpower CryoTel cryocoolers have successfully flown onboard the International Space Station, as well as two satellite missions, (RHESSI and CHIRP). CryoTel  cryocoolers are well suited to satellite missions due to their reliability, high performance and efficiency. As of May 2015, there have been a total of 52 successful CT-F cryocooler launches into space.  For more information on our flight cryocoolers, please go here.


The Reuven Ramaty High Energy Solar Spectroscopic Imager (RHESSI) is designed to image solar flares in energetic photons from soft X rays (~3 keV) to gamma rays (up to ~20 MeV) and to provide high resolution spectroscopy up to gamma-ray energies of ~20 MeV. Furthermore, it has the capability to perform spatially resolved spectroscopy with high spectral resolution.  The RHESSI satellite was launched February 52f79729795th, 2002 on an Orbital Sciences Corporation Pegasus XL rocket.  The original mission duration was 2 years, but after over 110,000 hours of operation the cryocooler is still providing cooling to enable valuable science to continue to be obtained from the satellite.

For more information about the RHESSI mission please go here.


Flight RefrigerationGLACIER_Patch


The GLACIER (General Laboratory Active Cryogenic ISS Experiment Refrigerator) is a cryogenic freezer/refrigerator system that accommodates multiple biological sample types and volumes while on the International Space Station(ISS) that was developed by the University of Alabama at Birmingham. The GLACIER can maintain a temperature of -160 °C (-256 °F) for 6 to 8 hours without power. Originally designed for transport onboard the Space Shuttle, the GLACIER will now be transported to/from the ISS installed in SpaceX’s Dragon capsule.

SpaceX’s first resupply mission to the International Space Station (ISS) launched Sunday, October 7, 2012 from Kennedy Space Center with the GLACIER aboard filled with Blue Bell ice cream cups as a “bonus food” for the astronauts currently on the International Space Station (ISS). The SpaceX CRS-1 mission marks GLACIER’s first flight since the retirement of the Shuttle program.  The Glacier and the next generation version of the Glacier (POLAR) were developed in close cooperation between the University of Alabama at Birmingham and Sunpower.

For more information, visit here.

Plasma Rocket

The Ad Astra Rocket Company is evaluating the Sunpower CryoTel® cryocooler for use in its VASIMR® propulsion system. The Variable Specific Impulse Magnetoplasma Rocket (VASIMR®) technology represents the future of translunar and interplanetary transportation as well as propulsion within Earth orbit. Its superb efficiency compared to that of a conventional chemical rocket allows double the payload mass for lunar delivery and half the transit time to Mars. Its robust design allows much greater power levels than existing electric propulsion systems and promises longer lifetimes.

For additional information on the plasma rocket application please visit here.


The Commercially Hosted Infrared Payload (CHIRP) was launched September 21, 2011 on an SES commercial communications satellite inside an Ariane 5 rocket.  Following 27 months of successful operation, during which all mission objectives were met, the instrument was decommissioned on December 6th, 2013.

The CHIRP system accomplished all objectives by collecting more than 300 terabytes of Overhead Persistent Infrared (OPIR) data, enabling analysis of more than 70 missile- and rocket-launch events and more than 150 other infrared events. CHIRP mission products stimulated new applications of OPIR data by defense and civil users. Given the successful accomplishment of the project’s mission objectives, and increasing budgetary constraints, the Air Force chose not to extend the current contract period.url

The CHIRP satellite was designed and built by Leidos, (formally SAIC) who chose a CryoTel CT-F cryocooler to provide reliable cooling to the IR detector.


CryoTel® coolers offer researchers the most flexibility possible with respect to small size, high heat lift, orientation and form factor. Every application on this page begins in research, and Sunpower fully supports research activities using our cryocoolers.CryoTel Cube Rev B 2K px w mask RGBs


Laser Cooling

Need more cooling than a thermoelectric can provide?  Try a CryoTel® cryocooler if performance and small size are important factors for you.  Sunpower is working with several laser manufacturers who have incorporated a CryoTel cryocooler into their laser product.