A document describes a continuous magnetic refrigerator that is suited for cooling astrophysics detectors. This refrigerator has the potential to provide efficient, continuous cooling to temperatures below 50 mK for detectors, and has the benefits over existing magnetic coolers of reduced mass because of faster cycle times, the ability to pump the cooled fluid to remote cooling locations away from the magnetic field created by the superconducting magnet, elimination of the added complexity and mass of heat switches, and elimination of the need for a thermal bus and single crystal paramagnetic materials due to the good thermal contact between the fluid and the paramagnetic material.

A reliable, thermodynamically efficient pump that will work at 1.8 K was needed to enable development of the new magnetic refrigerator. The pump consists of two canisters packed with pieces of gadolinium gallium garnet (GGG). The canisters are connected by a superleak (a porous piece of VYCOR® glass). A superconducting magnetic coil surrounds each of the canisters. The configuration enables driving of cyclic thermodynamic cycles (such as the sub-Kelvin Active Magnetic Regenerative Refrigerator) without using pistons or moving parts.

This work was done by Franklin K. Miller of Goddard Space Flight Center. GSC-15573-1

NASA Tech Briefs Magazine

This article first appeared in the August, 2012 issue of NASA Tech Briefs Magazine.

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