High Efficiency MEMS Based Cryocooler

Period of Performance: 01/01/2004 - 12/31/2004


Phase 2 SBIR

Recipient Firm

Nanohmics, Inc.
6201 E. Oltorf Street Suite 400
Austin, TX 78741
Principal Investigator


In this SBIR program, Nanohmics is developing an ultrahigh efficiency MicroElectroMechanical System (MEMS) cryogenic cooling system. The cryocooler is based on a Stirling Engine that is operating in reverse mode (mechanical-to-thermal) transduction. These devices show particular promise as MEMS coolers for integrated circuits and other planar detection arrays. This program improves on past work to develop a MEMS-based Stirling cryocooler that will dramatically improve the cryocooler performance and simplify device construction. The improvements to be included in this program are replacing the silicon heat exchanger plates and flexible membranes with high thermal conductivity diamond and monolithically constructing the gas impervious walls and regenerator portion of the device using quartz (SiO2). In Phase I of this program, Nanohmics examined the effects of introducing these materials into Stirling cryocoolers in the MEMS setting. This included thermal modeling of the proposed structure and examination of the operating parameters to produce optimum performance. Nanohmics also developed the process steps necessary to fabricate the device. In Phase II Nanohmics proposes to fabricate and test a prototype device based on the Phase I design.