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  • TCC Crystals Bound for Space
Jun 2003
GLASGOW, Scotland, June 2 -- The Crystal Consortium (TCC) Ltd. has won a contract to develop a crystal for the European Space Agency (ESA) as part of a unique, solid-state cooling system, the advanced demagnetisation refrigerator (ADR), being built by the Mullard Space Science Laboratory at the University College London to replace current liquid helium coolers. The ADR is one of several new technologies the ESA is assessing for use on the XEUS space telescope.

The DGG crystals used in the ADR are currently available in small, random sizes; TCC’s task is to develop a larger crystal to specification and to supply samples to MSSL.

The ADR fulfills the need for a fully automated, reliable, long-lasting cryogenic cooler for space X-ray detectors, TCC said. Lab prototypes use dysprosium gallium garnet crystals, which are placed in a strong magnetic field of around 2 T. The field is then switched off, which causes the crystal to cool down to 10 mK, a temperature that can be maintained for several years. Current liquid helium technology requires the helium to be replaced after two years.

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