The Fast Cool Down Microcryocooler can cool an IR sensor in 3 minutes. It’s ultra-compact, too, with a cold head (right) that’s less than half the length of the previous model. (Credit: Lockheed Martin)
Lockheed Martin has developed a new micro-size cryocooler that enables quick-startup infrared (IR) sensors for sensor and missile applications.
Cryocoolers are regular components in IR-sensing platforms, and they have applications such as weapons targeting and space observation.
This newly developed product is highly-compact and promotes smaller packaging and faster activation.
Cameras, satellite sensors and other highly sophisticated electronics should be cooled in order to identify what they are designed to capture, even at temperatures as low as -320°F (-195°C).
The Fast Cool Down Microcryocooler makes sure our military can have rapid-reaction systems, from missile to passive sensor applications. We can cool an IR sensor in 3 minutes, versus the 12 to 15 minutes of current systems. That’s crucial when lives are on the line.
Dr. Jeffrey Olson, Research Scientist at Lockheed Martin’s Advanced Technology Center
The new microcryocooler uses the same miniaturized compressor that is used in the conventional microcryocooler, but it has a new cold head. The unique architecture permits engineers to decrease the cold head to just 54 mm long, less than half the length of the earlier model.
At just 320 grams the cooler continues to show it's capabilities, specifically for small spacecraft, like cubesats, and hand-carried, compact weapon systems. These features are delivered by the Fast Cool Down Microcryocooler with a decade-long design life.
The Advanced Technology Center develops a comprehensive product line of cryocoolers, with earlier breakthroughs such as the High Power Microcryocooler variant already existing in the market.