Montana Patent of the Month – October 2021

Those performing cryogenic research know the limits of microscopy and spectroscopy for analyzing samples. The cooling systems used to perform microscopy at low temperatures leads to vibration of the samples, making it difficult to accurately observe anything. It is also difficult to maintain a constant temperature of the sample. Montana Instruments Corp. has developed an analytical system specifically for cryogenic research.

Their system uses a sample stage aligned with a cooling source, a thermal link coupled between each the stage and the cooling source. The cooling source is a closed-cycle cryocooler expander. The cryocooler is supported via vacuum pods to prevent the vibration of the sample. This allows the sample to be cryogenically cooled and securely mounted to the optics bench. A temperature sensor and a heater are located on the support component near the sample provides the ability for an adaptive feedback loop. This loop reduces temperature fluctuations, helping the sample to remain thermally stable as well. The cryocooler is first operated manually until the desired temperature is achieved, at which point the system records the temperature profile of a full cycle and used to automate the temperature at this desired level going forward. With these features, researchers can effectively analyze their cryogenic samples with as little interference as seen in regular microscopy.

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