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The Magneto-Optic Modulator

Many state-of-the-art technologies work at incredibly low temperatures. Superconducting microprocessors and quantum computers promise to revolutionize computation, but scientists need to keep them just above absolute zero (-459.67° Fahrenheit) to protect their delicate states. Still, ultra-cold components have to interface with room temperature systems, providing both a challenge and an opportunity for engineers. An international team of scientists, led by UC Santa Barbara’s, has designed a device to help cryogenic computers talk with their fair-weather counterparts. The mechanism uses a magnetic field to convert data from electrical current to pulses of light. The light can then travel via fiber-optic cables, which can transmit more information than regular electrical cables while minimizing the heat that leaks into the cryogenic system. The team’s results appear in the journal Nature Electronics. “A device like this could enable seamless integration with cutting-edge technologies based on superconductors, for example,” said Pintus, a project scientist in UC Santa Barbara’s Optoelectronics Research Group. Superconductors can carry electrical current without any energy loss, but typically require temperatures below -450° Fahrenheit to work properly. Right now, cryogenic systems use standard metal wires to connect with room-temperature electronics. Unfortunately, these wires transfer heat into the cold circuits and can only transmit a small amount of data at a time. Pintus and his collaborators wanted to address both these issues at once. “The solution is using light in an optical fiber to transfer information instead of using electrons in a metal cable,” he said. Fiber optics are standard in modern telecommunications. These thin glass cables carry information as pulses of light far faster than metal wires can carry electrical charges. As a result, fiberoptic cables can relay 1,000 times more data than conventional wires over the same time span. And glass is a good insulator, meaning it will transfer far less heat to the cryogenic components than a metal wire. However, using fiber optics requires an extra step: converting data from electrical signals into optical signals using a modulator. This is a routine process at ambient conditions, but becomes a bit tricky at cryogenic temperatures.  Pintus and his collaborators built a device that translates electrical input into pulses of light. An electric current creates a magnetic field that changes the optical properties of a synthetic garnet. Scientists refer to this as the “magneto-optic effect.” The magnetic field changes the garnet’s refractive index, essentially its “density” to light. By changing this property, Pintus can tune the amplitude of the light that circulates in a micro-ring resonator and interacts with the garnet. This creates bright and dark pulses that carry information through the fiberoptic cable like Morse code in a telegraph wire. “This is the first high-speed modulator ever fabricated using the magneto-optic effect,” Pintus remarked. Other researchers have created modulators using capacitor-like devices and electric fields. However, these modulators usually have high electrical impedance — they resist the flow of alternating current — making them a poor match for superconductors, which have essentially zero electrical impedance. Since the magneto-optic modulator has low impedance, the scientists hope it will be able to better interface with superconductor circuits. The team also took steps to make their modulator as practical as possible. It operates at wavelengths of 1,550 nanometers, the same wavelength of light used in internet telecommunications. It was produced using standard methods, which simplifies its manufacturing. The project, funded by the Air Force Office of Scientific Research, was a collaborative effort. Pintus and group director John Bowers at UC Santa Barbara led the project, from conception, modelling and design through fabrication and testing. The synthetic garnet was grown and characterized by a group of researchers from the Tokyo Institute of Technology who have collaborated with the team at UCSB’s Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering on several research projects in the past. Another partner, the Quantum Computing and Engineering group of BBN Raytheon, develops the kinds of superconducting circuits that could benefit from the new technology. Their collaboration with UCSB is a longstanding one. Scientists at BBN performed the low-temperature testing of the device to verify its performance in a realistic superconducting computing environment. The device’s bandwidth is around 2 gigabits per second. It’s not a lot compared to data links at room temperature, but Pintus said it’s promising for a first demonstration. The team also needs to make the device more efficient for it to become useful in practical applications. However, they believe they can achieve this by replacing the garnet with a better material. “We would like to investigate other materials,” he added, “and we think we can achieve a higher bitrate. For instance, europium-based materials show a magneto-optic effect 300 times larger than the garnet.” There are plenty of materials to choose from, but not a lot of information to help Pintus and his colleagues make that choice. Scientists have studied the magneto-optic properties of only a few materials at low temperatures. “The promising results demonstrated in this work could pave the way for a new class of energy efficient cryogenic devices,” Pintus said, “leading the research toward high-performing (unexplored) magneto-optic materials that can operate at low temperatures.” Image 1: Electricity flowing through a metal coil generates electric (purple) and magnetic (faint green) fields. This changes the properties of the substrate, which tunes the resonance ring (red) to different frequencies. The whole setup enables the scientists to convert a continuous beam of light (red on left) into pulses that can carry data through a fiber-optic cable. Credit: BRIAN LONG  Image 2: The magneto-optic modular: Gold coil (top), synthetic garnet (green in middle), silicon micro-ring resonator and waveguide (bottom). Port 1 and 2 are the input and output for the optical transmission. Credit: PAOLO PINTUS ET AL.Many state-of-the-art technologies work at incredibly low temperatures. Superconducting microprocessors and quantum computers promise to revolutionize computation, but scientists need to keep them just above absolute zero (-459.67° Fahrenheit) to protect their delicate states. Still, ultra-cold components have to interface with room temperature systems, providing both a challenge and an opportunity for engineers.

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IBM Scientists Cool Down the World’s Largest Quantum-ready Cryogenic Concept System

Pat Gumann, IBM Research staff member, and Goldeneye technical lead, adjusts the bottom of the "super-fridge,” a dilution refrigerator larger than any commercially available today. Credit: Connie Zhou for IBMWe create knowledge by exploring reality’s frontiers: we study the coldest, the furthest, the lowest and highest energies, and the smallest things in the universe. But reaching these frontiers is no small feat — typically, it requires building all-new apparatuses that push the limits of modern technology. That’s why we built the world’s largest dilution refrigerator by experimental volume. 

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Allen Dufort: Coding a cutting-edge space telescope

In July, as the world marveled at the first images of the Cosmic Cliffs and previously invisible areas of star birth revealed by the James Webb Space Telescope, Allen Dufort felt excited that he’d soon make his own contributions to space exploration.In July, as the world marveled at the first images of the Cosmic Cliffs and previously invisible areas of star birth revealed by the James Webb Space Telescope, Allen Dufort felt excited that he’d soon make his own contributions to space exploration. As a software engineer intern, Dufort is supporting Brown University Professor of Physics Gregory Tucker's NASA-funded project to help build a telescope that will enable the study of distant planets. As part of the team, Dufort spent the summer of 2022 writing computer code for components of the telescope that the team from Brown is able to build, thanks to a grant from NASA.

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Cryogenic Operation of LEDs Results in Improved Quantum Efficiency

Illustration of gravitational waves produced by two orbiting black holes. [Credit: Henze/NASA]Terrestrial Gravitational Wave Detectors

Terrestrial gravitational wave detectors have been used to identify various gravitational wave sources. For example, researchers have detected potential black hole neutron star mergers, binary neutron star inspirals, and binary black hole mergers via the advanced Laser Interferometer Gravitational-wave Observatory (LIGO). The aLIGO detectors' most sensitive band is limited by thermal noise from the primary optics and quantum shot noise. The thermal noise is combated in the KAGRA detector via cooling its core optics.

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3D Systems Announces Copper-nickel Alloy for PBF-LB

3D Systems intends to add CuNi30 to its general portfolio in Q4 2022 (Courtesy 3D Systems)3D Systems has announced CuNi30 – a corrosion-resistant, copper-nickel alloy for use with its DMP Flex 350, metal additive manufacturing machine. The material is a result from the company’s collaboration with HII’s Newport News Shipbuilding division to develop materials and process parameters for the Laser Beam Powder Bed Fusion (PBF-LB) process.

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Nikkiso to Bring Hydrogen Fueling Stations to California, South Korea, and Germany

Nikkiso Clean Energy & Industrial Gases Group was awarded multiple contracts for over a dozen locations. Nikkiso Clean Energy & Industrial Gases Group (CE&IG), a part of the Japanese company Nikkiso Co., Ltd group of companies, has announced that it was awarded several contracts for providing over a dozen hydrogen fueling stations that will be located in California, South Korea and Germany.Nikkiso Clean Energy & Industrial Gases Group was awarded multiple contracts for over a dozen locations. Nikkiso Clean Energy & Industrial Gases Group (CE&IG), a part of the Japanese company Nikkiso Co., Ltd group of companies, has announced that it was awarded several contracts for providing over a dozen hydrogen fueling stations that will be located in California, South Korea and Germany.

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Are We Alone in the Cosmos? Space Dynamics Lab to Help Answer the Question

SDL Mechanical Engineering Associate Paul Fluckiger (left), Mechanical Engineer Trever Mitton (center), and JPL Cryogenic Thermal Subsystem Project Lead Weibo Chen prepare the CTS for delivery to JPL in this April 25, 2022 photo at SDL facilities in North Logan, Utah. Credit: SDL/Kelden PetersonUtah State University’s Space Dynamics Laboratory (USU SDL) announced in May 2022 that it has delivered a critical subsystem to NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) for integration onto the Nancy Grace Roman Space Telescope. The Cryogenic Thermal Subsystem for the Roman Coronagraph Instrument was delivered to JPL at SDL’s facilities on USU’s Innovation Campus. 

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A Quarter-Century Industry Experience Brings About New Company

Leiden Cryogenics Cryostat Model CF-CS110, available with 500, 1,000 and 1,500 microW @ 100mK. Credit: Leiden CryogenicsAfter 25 years in the high-tech cryogenics field, while employed at Cryogenic Technical Services (CTS) and High Precision Devices (HPD) and working with some of the best scientific minds in the world, Charlie Danaher started Danaher Cryogenics in early 2022 to respond to the ever-increasing demand for elegant, collaborative solutions to address the new cryogenic challenges. To paint a picture of Danaher Cryogenics’ offerings, a brief review of Charlie’s experience is in order.

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Cryogenic Bubble Interaction: Challenges, Motivation and Potential Benefits in Cryosurgery

Schematic demonstrating the idea of an ultrasound-aided cryosurgical process comprising oscillating bubbles in liquid nitrogen for operating on a tumor. This idea was also discussed in Mondal et al., "Acoustic Cavitation-induced Shear: A Mini- Review," Biophysical Reviews (2021) and Mondal et al., "Numerical Investigation of the Flow-field Due to Oscillating GN2-LN2 Interface in Presence of Ultrasound," Space Cryogenics Workshop (2021). Credit: Indian Institute of Technology Kharagpur, IndiaCryogenic fluid management systems use pumps, turbines, pipes (chilldown lines), valves/orifice, etc., operating at very low temperatures (below 120 K) that are at considerable risk of heat-inleak from ambient surroundings (300 K). This leads to the development of a multiphase environment, consisting of both liquid and vapor, and manifests as several bubbles that undergo intense growth and collapse (commonly known as cavitation). Cavitation damage is a well-known risk to equipment, often causing the failure of the entire cryogenic system. However, bubbles in cryogenic systems need not always be a threat. Our investigation reveals the useful nature of bubble oscillation and its potential for specific applications at liquid nitrogen (LN2) temperature. 

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Extreme Cool – Making Liquid Nitrogen in a Deep Underground Clean Lab

LN2 plant installation. Credit: Fabrum-SNOLABSNOLAB is Canada’s deep underground research laboratory, located two kilometers underground in Vale’s Creighton mine near Sudbury, Ontario, Canada. SNOLAB is a unique facility, providing a low background environment designed for scientific research and operates a 5,000m2 underground campus as a class-2000 clean lab. While the science program is focused on astroparticle physics, the location is also well suited to biology, geology and low radiological studies. 

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Temperatures Colder Than Space, Achieved on Earth Through X-ray Laser

The LCLS-II accelerator, where temperatures 2 K above absolute zero have been achieved. Credit: Greg Stewart/SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory.A half-mile-long tunnel under Menlo Park, Calif., has become colder than most of the universe because of a particle accelerator that slams electrons together here on Earth. Using the X-ray free-electron laser at the Department of Energy's SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory – part of an upgrade project to the Linac Coherent Light Source (LCLS) called LCLS II – scientists chilled liquid helium to -456 °F (-271 °C). That is just 2 kelvins above absolute zero, the coldest possible temperature at which all particle movement ceases. That frosty environment is crucial for the accelerator because at such low temperatures, the machine becomes superconducting, meaning it can boost electrons through it with near zero energy loss. Even empty regions of space aren't this cold, as they are still filled with the cosmic microwave background radiation, a remnant from shortly after the Big Bang that has a uniform temperature of -454 °F (-271 °C or 3 K). 

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NASA's Cold Atom Lab Experiments with Exotic State of Matter

Inside NASA’s Cold Atom Lab, scientists form bubbles from ultracold gas, shown in pink in this illustration. Lasers, also depicted, are used to cool the atoms, while an atom chip, illustrated in gray, generates magnetic fields to manipulate their shape in combination with radio waves. Credit: NASA/JPL-CaltechSince the days of NASA’s Apollo program, astronauts have documented (and contended with) how liquids like water behave differently in microgravity than they do on Earth – coalescing into floating spheres instead of bottom-heavy droplets. Now, researchers have demonstrated this effect with a much more exotic material: gas cooled to nearly absolute zero (-459 ºF or -273 ºC), the lowest temperature matter can reach. 

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Artemis Updates: Teams Continue to Review Options for Next Attempt, Prepare to Replace Seal and Replenish Liquid Hydrogen Loading Operations

NASA’s Space Launch System (SLS) rocket with the Orion spacecraft aboard is seen atop a mobile launcher at Launch Pad 39B during preparations for launch, Friday, Sept. 2, 2022, at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida. Photo Credit: (NASA/Bill Ingalls)After standing down on the Artemis I launch attempt Saturday, Sept. 3 due to a hydrogen leak, teams have decided to replace the seal on an interface, called the quick disconnect, between the liquid hydrogen fuel feed line on the mobile launcher and the Space Launch System (SLS) rocket while at the launch pad.

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Turboexpanders Are Key Components to the Energy Transition

L.A. Turbine’s newest expander offering, the ARES AMB turboexpander-compressor with on-skid control panel. (Photo: L.A. Turbine.)With the energy sector looking to decarbonize, the transition away from hydrocarbons is underway, with hydrogen taking center stage in many of the industry’s roadmaps. Georgia-based Chart Industries (NYSE: GTLS) has responded to this interest by bolstering its offering of products and technologies that enable the industry to move away from hydrocarbons and toward clean energy solutions.

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Test Chamber for NASA’s New Cosmic Mapmaker Makes Dramatic Entrance

This illustration shows a cross section of NASA’s upcoming SPHERE mission, revealing the spacecraft’s telescope and detectors surrounded by three shiny photon shields that protect them from the Sun.   Credit: NASA/JPL-CaltechAfter three years of design and construction, a monthlong boat ride across the Pacific Ocean, and a lift from a 30-ton crane, the customized test chamber for NASA’s upcoming SPHEREx mission has finally reached its destination at Caltech’s Cahill Center for Astronomy and Astrophysics in Pasadena.

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New Microscope Advances Cryo-ET Research

Thermo Scientific Arctis Cryo-Plasma Focused Ion Beam (Cryo-PFIB) Graphic Credit: Business WireThermo Fisher Scientific Inc. unveiled the Thermo Scientific Arctis Cryo-Plasma Focused Ion Beam (Cryo-PFIB), a new connected and automated microscope designed to advance the pace of cryo-electron tomography (cryo-ET) research. Cryo-ET makes it possible to study how proteins and other molecules operate together in a cellular context, at resolutions unsurpassed by other microscopy techniques, and has enormous potential for cell biology research, including the study of infectious disease, neurodegenerative disease, and other globally impactful structural biology applications. However, the process of preparing optimal samples for cryo-ET is still time-consuming and complex.

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Excavation of Huge Caverns for DUNE Particle Detector Underway

A construction miner stands near a bolter, a huge machine that installs 20-foot-long rock bolts in the caverns that will house the Deep Underground Neutrino Experiment. About 16,000 bolts will need to be installed to provide ground support in the gigantic, seven-story-tall caverns a mile underground. Photo: Jason Hogan, Thyssen Mining Inc.Around a mile below the surface in South Dakota, construction crews are hard at work excavating around 1,000 tons of rock per day. Their goal is to make room for a large underground facility that will house an international effort aimed at studying neutrinos—highly elusive subatomic particles that may hold the key to many of the universe’s secrets.

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Helios and Eta Space Combine Technologies to Extract and Store Liquid Oxygen on the Moon

Oxygen depot on the moon - illustration by HeliosTwo space tech companies, Helios and Eta Space, announced they are joining forces to solve the problem of oxygen in space. If humanity is to have a sustainable presence beyond Earth, reusable methane-fueled rocket systems need liquid oxygen at a ratio of 1:4, so the only cost-effective solution to refueling in orbit is to create and store oxygen on the Moon and on Mars.

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In DNA--Scientists find solution to building superconductor that could transform technology

Superconducting DNAScientists at the University of Virginia School of Medicine and their collaborators have used DNA to overcome a nearly insurmountable obstacle to engineer materials that would revolutionize electronics. 

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Chemical Breakthrough Could Unlock the True Potential of Powdered Hydrogen as a Fuel

Hydrogen logistics concept.Researchers at the Deakin University in Australia have found that boron nitride, a household chemical used commonly in paints, cosmetics as well as dental cement, could unlock the potential of hydrogen as a fuel, a press release said

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