A man working in the ultra-low temperature laboratory

Lancaster Cryogenics Ltd

Lancaster Cryogenics is a campus-based spin-out company that offers expertise and capability in cryogenic engineering and sensitive measurement techniques, building on the knowledge base and pioneering history of the Low Temperature Physics research group at Lancaster University.

Why They Formed

In November 2011, members of the Low Temperature Physics Group, Professor Pickett, Dr Richard Haley, Mr Alan Stokes and Mr Martin Ward, liaised with University Intellectual Property Manager, Dr Gavin Smith, and created a new spin-out company, Lancaster Cryogenics.

The company was created to address the demand for high specification custom cryogenic components and measurement systems for established researchers, industrial partners, and those with little low temperature experience; to manage the increasing demand for consultancy, and take advantage of the growing market for cooling nanoscience devices for emerging quantum technologies.

Expertise Offered

  • All aspects of cryogenics
  • Provision of ultralow temperatures (millikelvin and below)
  • Variety of sensitive measurement techniques (low noise, low excitation, small-signal)
  • Design consultancy through to the manufacture and testing of bespoke components

Collaboration With the University

Lancaster University has a suite of the best dilution refrigerators in the world, developed and constructed on-site, with minimum temperatures around 2 millikelvins (mK), nearly 10 times colder than their nearest rivals. Their 1.75mK machine is the coldest dilution refrigerator ever made and is used for pre-cooling a second stage that takes superfluids into the microkelvin regime, colder than anywhere else. UK industry has a majority share of dilution refrigerator (DR) manufacture, with complete research-ready machines costing in the region of £1m, and leads research in this field. Lancaster Cryogenics have access to these facilities.

The Ultralow Temperature Physics Group has provided heat exchangers and complete refrigerator units to government laboratories and universities around the world. The first modern DR produced was designed by Science and Technology’s Professor George Pickett, Fellow of the Royal Society, and the group’s designs have influenced the commercial manufacturers of dilution refrigerators both directly and indirectly.

Their advice is frequently sought by established researchers, those with little low temperature experience and all sectors using dilution refrigerators, on account of their experience, the time-consuming nature of the work, and a growing trend to move from many groups to fewer, smaller groups and outsource expertise.

Successes So Far

The company offers a range of expertise and skills, from expert opinion and design consultancy, through to the manufacture and testing of bespoke components. Clients to date have included an international government atomic energy department, national and international research institutes, and commercial cryogenics and DR companies.