Cryogenic refers to temperatures from -150°C down to 0 Kelvin (-273°C). Temperatures in this range are typically described in Kelvin rather than Deg C. 0 K is -273 deg C. Although it can be used to refer to any freezing temperatures, cryogenic typically refers to much colder temperatures than just below the freezing point of water.

In such cold environments, especially below 1 Kelvin, many crystalline structures change their properties. Strength, thermal conductivity, ductility, and electrical resistance are all impacted. As temperatures decrease, the electrical resistance of most metals also decreases. Certain metals will lose all electrical resistance and become superconductors.

Cryogenic applications require interconnects that can support a super cold environment. Silicon dioxide (SiO2) is common for cryogenic applications based on its material properties and how it functions at such low temperatures. Here we are working with special alloys that are even better than copper.

Cryogenic Applications

Quantum computing is an extremely fast-growing industry and needs levels of support. These computers are structured like inverted chandeliers. The smallest parts are at the bottom and live at temperatures around or below 1 degree Kelvin. Inches above that the temperature is 10 Deg K and the materials needed are completely different. A few more inches away, the temperatures are much easier to support at only 50 deg K. In addition to the temperatures on the cable materials, connectors or other ways to get on and off of boards and chips is a significant challenge.

Particle accelerators give off massive amounts of energy, so the environment around it needs to be cryogenic to cool it down instantly. In this environment, both the temperatures and radiation pose a challenge. SiO2 can easily endure both of these conditions.

Infrared systems need to be cooled cryogenically. The staring arrays used in these systems has to be supercooled to see heated targets against the ambient backgrounds.

Space is another cryogenic environment if the cable or assembly is located outside the satellite. Whether behind the moon or traveling into deep space, a satellite endures cryogenic conditions, potentially even absolute zero, or Zero K.