Young Faces: The Next Generation in Cryogenics

We’re pleased to present a new installment of Young Faces, a feature story we debuted in the Summer 2006 issue of Cold Facts introducing outstanding young professionals (under 40 years of age) who are doing interesting things in cryogenics and superconductivity and who show promise of making a difference in their fields. Below is our fourth installment of Young Faces.

Ashley Huff, 28

Educational background: BS in physics from the University of Minnesota, MBA in project management from Southern New Hampshire University (in process)

Present company/position: Senior custom lab technician at Janis Research Company, Inc. (CSA CSM)

My contributions to the cryogenic field: Currently in my position with Janis I assemble and test systems for use in the cryogenics field. These range from a simple continuous flow He-4 system to the more advanced He-3 systems and dilution refrigerators, both liquid helium-based and cryogen free.

What I believe is the most important development in cryogenics: From my perspective the emergence of pulse tube cryocoolers, which combined with 3He – 4He dilution cycle, revolutionized research in ultralow temperature applications. This allows people to conduct their experiments without worrying about having liquid helium available.

What I hope to see in the future: I would like to see more automated “push-button” ultralow temperature systems for applications such as superconducting qubit-based quantum computers.

How I got into cryogenics: I got into cryogenics while I was studying at University of Minnesota, where I was required to do independent research. My partner for the project was in charge of maintaining a conventional dilution refrigerator for the Cryogenic Dark Matter Search Project (CDMS). We used this equipment, produced by Janis, to do our research that semester. When my partner left his position in the lab it was offered to me, and I operated and maintained the dilution refrigerator for the next year and half, performing all the day-to-day operations. This ranged from receiving and installing the dark matter detectors in the systems, maintaining the wiring, operating the system during the test and collecting data.

My mentor and my experience with him/her: I have been incredibly lucky and I am able to say that I have two mentors, Dr. Zuyu Zhao and Dr. Vladimir Shvarts. I met both of them when I started working at Janis. Between the two of them they have more than 50 years’ experience in the field of ultralow temperature refrigeration and thermometry. Both of them love to pass on all the knowledge they have to young physicists. They have both pushed me to the limit to become a better technician and have really enhanced my love for this field. They have significantly widened my horizons through formal lectures and in private conversations on subjects like material properties at low temperatures, modern engineering technology like SolidWorks or project management. They supported my decision to continue my education at Southern New Hampshire University working towards an MBA in project management. I hope to use this knowledge and experience to oversee the next generation of ultra-low temperature projects. It is hard not to be excited about this work when you see how passionate they both are about the work they do.

Dr. Mark Vanderlaan, 29


Educational background: PhD in mechanical engineering from Florida State University, BS in mechanical engineering, minor in physics from University of Florida

Present company/position: Postdoc­toral research associate

Awards/honors: Jean and Klaus Timmerhaus Fellowship Award (2011-2012), CEC Student Paper Meritorious Award (2013)

My contributions to the cryogenic field: I have worked in the field of cryogenics since 2008 when I was a summer intern at the National High Magnetic Field Lab (CSA CSM). My first project involved the addition of a natural convection heat transfer loop into a cryocooler to reliquefy helium boiloff in superconducting magnetic systems. Later as a grad student at the MagLab, I examined the water absorption in foam insulation formally used by the space shuttle. A 900 MHz MRI magnet was used with a specially developed “proton-free” radio frequency coil to create images of the absorbed water inside the foam. My PhD thesis was a study of He II heat transfer through random packed spheres for applications in particle accelerators. I developed a new turbulent He II heat transfer equation for porous media.

What I believe is the most important development in cryogenics: Super­conductivity. Superconductors can be found in particle accelerators, fusion reactors and MRI machines. The discoveries from these technologies would have been more difficult to observe (if possible at all) with resistive magnets.

What I hope to see in the future: I would like to see the discovery of a cost-effective high temperature superconductor. It is hard to say this because it takes the cryogenics out of superconductivity, but the potential for technology advances is enormous. Maybe instead of a high temperature superconductor I would like to see a medium temperature superconductor. That way the cryogenics engineers can still be involved.

How I got into cryogenics: I took a cryogenics class at University of Florida with Professor Gary Ihas. He had a fascinating discussion on superfluids. Steve Van Sciver gave a guest lecture at the class and we talked about the possibility of graduate school. I did a summer internship at the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory in 2008 and returned a year later for graduate school.

My mentor and my experience with him/her: My cryogenics mentor would have to be Steve Van Sciver. I acquired most of my cryogenic knowledge while in his lab. His resources, including a copy of every journal paper dealing with cryogenics, were immensely helpful. He also introduced me to many members of the cryogenics community at CEC conferences.

Ben Hansen, 32


Educational background: University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee, BS in physics and mechanical engineering. Boston University, MS in mechanical engineering
Present company/position: Fermilab (CSA CSM), AD/Cryogenic Systems, engineer

Awards/honors: NSF Graduate Research Fellow, Graduate Thesis with Greatest Commercial Potential

My contributions to the cryogenic field: I started my cryogenic career as a co-op student at Fermilab. At that time, I worked with a small group who were just beginning to bring liquid argon time projection chamber (TPC) technology to Fermilab. Now, over ten years later, Fermilab is a leader in the area of LAr TPC technology and is building some of the world’s largest and most sophisticated TPCs.

Recently, I have made various contributions in building-up the 2K helium cryogenic infrastructure at Fermilab. In particular, I was closely involved in the commissioning and acceptance testing of the superfluid cold box (SCP) for the Cryomodule Test Facility (CMTF) at Fermilab. We are now working hard to get the CMTS cryogenic distribution system designed, fabricated and installed for the testing of LCLS-II cryomodules and then PIP-II cryomodules.

What I believe is the most important development in cryogenics: In helium cryogenics, the development of turbo machinery has been a very important development, such as dynamic gas and static gas turbines for high efficiency and reliable helium refrigerators and liquefiers and cold compressor technology for efficient 2K refrigeration. These technologies, combined with modern PLC controls, have made helium refrigerators and liquefiers much more reliable, efficient and operator friendly.

What I hope to see in the future: Room temperature superconductors, even though it would limit the application of cryogenics.

How I got into cryogenics: As a sophomore in college, I started as a co-op student at Fermilab in the AD/Cryogenics Systems group working under Arkadiy Klebaner and Jay Theilacker. This was a unique opportunity which acted as a catalyst for my academic achievements and my career in cryogenics.

My mentor and my experience with him/her: Arkadiy Klebaner has acted as my close mentor throughout my entire career in cryogenics. His deep understanding and extensive knowledge of the field along with his belief in a work/life balance has made him a wonderful mentor over the years. He has continually provided me with a variety of interesting and challenging projects and unique opportunities to help me advance as an engineer and in the field of cryogenics. The opportunity to work with him full time was a large reason why after my masters studies I returned to Fermilab and the field of cryogenics.

Eric Fauve, 35


Educational background: Masters degree in mechanical engineering, Ecole Centrale Marseille

Present company/position: LHe Plants Technical Responsible Officer, C&S Engineering Responsible Officer, Cryogenic System Section, ITER Organization

Awards/honors: International Expert at Air Liquide (CSA CSM)

My contributions to the cryogenic field: Involved in large cryogenic projects as lead project engineer or technical responsible officer at KSTAR, Korean Superconducting Tokamak (9 kW at 4.3K); RasLaffan: Helium 2, world’s largest helium liquefaction plant (20 tons/day); and ITER, International Supercon­ducting Tokamak [75 kW at 4.5K]

Patented solution for Cryogenic Heat Exchangers, Solutions for refrigeration of pulsed system (Tokamaks), Vapor recovery during mobile container loading (11.000USG).

What I believe is the most important development in cryogenics: Cold rotating machinery. Technically, the most advanced pieces of equipment required for large scale helium refrigeration and liquefaction units are cryogenic rotating machines: turbo-expanders, super­critical helium pumps and cold compressors. Their designs are continuously improved to increase their capacity, efficiency and reliability.

Project management and industrial standards. Cryogenic engineers also have to adapt to projects growing in size and to regulations and industrial standards increasing their demands. In addition to the essential technical knowledge, project management skills are today equally important in order to successfully execute large cryogenic engineering projects.

What I hope to see in the future: Centri­fugal compressors: warm centri­fugal compressors introduced for helium liquefaction/refrigeration system. This would significantly improve system efficiency; however, serious challenges remain.

How I got into cryogenics: Initially attracted by engines and gas turbines, I specialized in mechanical engineering with a major in thermodynamics. During my studies, I gained a strong interest in process and plant engineering. The opportunity to join Air Liquide advanced Technologies and to be involved in the KSTAR Project (helium refrigeration project for the Korean Tokamak) was a fantastic way to start a career as a cryogenic engineer. The adventure started with great companions: Frederic Andrieu (Air Liquide), Hyun-Sik Change and Chang-Ho Choi (NFRI), and Seung-Han Yang (CEI).

My mentor and my experience with him/her: Predecessors like Guy Gistau have paved the way for the next generation. I have had the chance to collaborate with many technicians and engineers willing to share their knowledge with youngsters. There is not much I could have done without their lessons and support…Among them, Michel Bonneton has been my best ally. With a MSc and a PhD in mechanical engineering, Michel joined Air Liquide in the ’80s and is a pioneer in cryogenics. With exceptional skills in process engineering, a gift for developing solutions in all fields, and the patience to transmit his considerable knowledge, he taught me what I should know to do the job…and most importantly he transmitted his passion for the subject. How did he start? With a blank page, a pencil and an eraser…

Andrew Dalesandro, 28


Educational background: BS and MS in mechanical engineering, Florida State University

Present company/position: Cryogenic engineer, Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory

Awards/honors: I have attended multiple classes and skills trainings since becoming an engineer at Fermilab, as well as publishing multiple papers to the proceedings of Cryogenic Engineering Conferences. No formal awards or honors, though.

My contributions to the cryogenic field: My first project at Fermilab was to research and publish results of an experiment designed to simulate the loss of vacuum on a scaled particle accelerator beam line, cooled at 2K with superfluid helium. Following this experiment I helped with the implementation and commissioning of a 500 W at 2K, 4 kW equivalent, superfluid helium plant at Fermilab’s Cryomodule Test Facility (CMTF) built by Linde (CSA CSM). For more than a year now the majority of my work has been focused on the design of helium distribution feedcaps, which are necessary to interface between 1.3 GHz superconducting radio frequency (SRF) cryomodules and cryogenic transfer lines for the Linac Coherent Light Source II (LCLS-II), to be built at SLAC National Accelerator Laboratory.

What I believe the most important development in cryogenics is: While cryogenics has broad applications, from my narrow lens within the Accelerator Cryogenics Department at Fermilab the greatest opportunity that I can see within cryogenics in the near term is the desire within the national lab community to expand the use and scope of SRF accelerator systems. In the longer term, SRF accelerator expansion from research-driven organizations into the private sector economy for developing a whole host of new products and technologies appears promising.

What I hope to see in the future: I hope to see a future where cryogenic systems coupled with superconductors become more cost competitive with and begin to replace traditional magnetic and electrical applications to help save cost and energy throughout multiple new industries and products, including personal and freight transportation, electrical power transmission and generation and advances in electronic circuit technologies.

How I got into cryogenics: It was a happy accident, where I found myself working part time as an undergraduate laboratory assistant in Professor Steve Van Sciver’s Cryogenics Lab at the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory at Florida State University. This was where I got my first introduction to cryogenics and quickly found myself working with superfluid helium and designing experiments intended to study its interesting characteristics. From there I decided to stick around and conduct my graduate research under Professor Van Sciver.

My mentor and my experience with him/her: At Florida State, Professor Van Sciver helped to stoke my interest and convince me to narrow my focus of study within cryogenics. Additionally, he helped me to realize the work and discipline required to design and conduct an experiment, including designing it to collect the desired data as well as how to overcome the adversities inherent in research when the data does not support the assumptions and expected results. Since starting at Fermilab, my supervisor, Arkadiy Klebaner, has helped me tremendously to expand my skills beyond being a researcher and to become a better engineer as well as providing me with the flexibility to pursue my ambitions. I consider myself extremely fortunate to have had the opportunity to work directly with two such passionate and prominent experts in the field of cryogenics and all around great guys.

Dr. Thomas Prouvé, 35


Educational background: I did my studies at a mechanical and fluid mechanical engineering school at INP Grenoble, then earned a masters in experimental and instrumental physics at the Université Joseph Fourier. After that I did my PhD at Institut Neel, CNRS, which I finished in 2007. I came then to my current laboratory at CEA for a two-year post doc and continued at Caltech for a three-year post doc position mostly in the NASA-JPL facilities.

Present company/position: Since 2012 I have had a permanent position at CEA Grenoble as research engineer. I am part of the SBT (low temperature lab), one of the four labs of the nanoscience and cryogenic institute (INAC). The group I work in is focused on space coolers (PT, sorption, ADR) and also heat pipes and spacecraft thermal engineering.

My contributions to the cryogenic field: My contributions could be summarized by pulse tube cryostats with fluid loops, space pulse tube coolers and sub-K developments.

During my masters internship I worked with Alain Benoit on the 4He heat pipe re-liquefier for the EDELWEISS 2 experiment. Then, with Henri Godfrin, I developed a fast cooldown dilution refrigerator precooled by a pulse tube. At that time we developed an efficient 3He dilution injection precooling using the free cooling power available on the 4K pulse tube regenerator. During my post doc in the US, with B. Naylor, C. Pain and W. Holmes, I developed a 1K 4He JT on a PT cryostat for the BLISS cryochain demonstrator I was working on.

In the sub-K field, I started working with dilution coolers. My PhD was more focused on 3He injection precooling, but I learned about dilution design from people who were the pioneers in this field. My CEA post doc with Nicolas Luchier was about “pocket dilutions.” I developed a 25mK dilution cooler with the particularity of having a cold 3He circulation. The massive room T pumping system was here replaced by a 300mK condenser placed close to the still. This “cryo pump” was heat sinked on a powerful sorption cooler. The whole thing could fit into a small backpack and was able to address balloon flights or lab low power day needs.

When I was at Caltech, I was in charge of the cryochain demonstrator of the astrophysics BLISS instrument led by M. Bradford, J. Bock and W. Holmes. I worked with Lionel Duband from CEA on a continuous 300mK tandem sorption cooler I connected to a 50mK ADR. Once the pulse tube cryostat was equipped with 1K heat sink and the cooler was working right, my job was to couple the whole thing to a dummy instrument designed by J. Hodis.

At CEA, I currently work on ADR superconducting magnetic shields and ground sorption coolers for astrophysics with Caltech. I will also take part in the cryochain testing for a CNES instrument.

My knowledge in high frequency space pulse tube cooler developments started when I arrived at CEA in 2012. I am currently working with Ivan Charles on a two-stage cooler 35K-110K for an ESA-TRP.

What I believe is the most important development in cryogenics: I believe the most important development in cryogenics is the superconducting magnet. So many experiments are using them—the biggest ones, like the CERN collider, or the ITER or JT-60 power plan. MRI is the most successful cryogenics application. I think superconductor wire and magnet technology are the biggest efforts made in cryogenics so far with a nice mix of fundamental physics and engineering.

What I hope to see in the future: My first thought for this question was: cheap 3He! But then I was thinking that for a cryogenic engineer this 3He penury was not completely bad because it pushed us to develop new cooler types, like ADR systems or smart low volume dilutions. It is a bit like the beginning of commercial 4K coolers. What a new field to play with! I started cryogenics with cryocoolers and I always thought that was a chance to be part of the “beginning” of this new dry cooling approach. So I would hope for the future to always have new big technological discoveries or challenges that open ways to many new interesting developments.

How I got into cryogenics: My first experience was at CEA/SBT where I work now. I got an interview for an internship after I send a speculative application and Lionel and Ivan introduced me to the lab and the job. At the end they asked me if I would be able, in five minutes, to dismount and rebuild a cabinet that was in the room. That was a joke, but I really liked this skill demand! After this internship I never stopped doing cryogenics.

My mentor and my experience with him/her: I remember this day when I was finishing my engineering schooling, so far not very convinced of my skills and choices of study, and I met an important man with a scientific approach that matched my personality. That was in 2003, when I was looking for my masters internship. I went to the institute Neel MCBT (CRTBT at that time) and I asked people about cryogenic development activities. I was sent to meet Alain Benoit, who was being nominated to the French science academy for his work on the Archeops balloon mission and space dilution cooler. A bit impressed by all that, I went to meet him by the huge EDELWEISS 2 cryostat. There I found a guy completely bent over the experiment and energetically sawing a metal tube. I asked for Alain and the man with worker hands and blue jeans told me he actually was Alain…I spent four months absorbing his pragmatic, very experimentally oriented, full speed mind, along with his simplicity and adventurous character. Working on such a big cryostat with him taught me how crucial it is to have a global view of a huge experiment (not only cryo), how to focus on what’s essential and be reactive by decoupling problems even if you need to cut your cooler in two pieces! Alain was leading a motivated team from different labs, and it gave me a chance to learn about the power of scientific adventure, about passion and about taking pleasure doing a job with quite a lot of freedom on the way to achieving a goal. Actually I was discovering the researcher life! And I was ready to start my own adventure with my PhD.

Dr. John Cummings, 37


Educational background: PhD in physics from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst

Present company/position: Ultra Low Temperature Laboratory manager at Janis Research Company LLC

Awards/Honors: UMass Physics Departmental Fellowship 2000-2002, William F. Field Alumni Scholar, Hasbrouck Scholar, Phi Beta Kappa, Golden Key International Honors Program

My contributions to the cryogenics field: The youngest member of the Ultra Low Temperature Management Team at Janis Research Company, I am responsible for the assembly and testing of all the sub-Kelvin systems manufactured at Janis. This involves working very closely with sales and the designers to ensure we are able to produce the best equipment that meets our customers’ needs. I am the primary onsite installation engineer, and travel all over the world to train researchers how to best use their new equipment. Janis’ collaboration with the customer does not end with the sale: I continue to provide technical assistance so that the researchers can continue to produce world class science.

What I believe is the most important development in cryogenics: I believe the most important developments in cryogenics go back to the pioneers of the field. In particular, James Dewar and Heike Kamerlingh Onnes, whose work opened the door to all the amazing effects that occur near absolute zero.

What I hope to see in the future: I hope to see continued interest in the field of cryogenics, where the systems that I help develop will be used be used by researchers all over the world to push the frontiers of science.

How I got into cryogenics: I was introduced to cryogenics when I was offered a research assistant position with the Laboratory of Low Temperature Physics at the University of Massachusetts the summer before beginning graduate school. I ended up completing my PhD with this group, working on a number of different experiments that focused primarily on helium physics and transition edge superconducting sensors.

My mentor and my experience with him/her: I have been lucky to have a number of mentors in cryogenics, but there are a few I would like to single out. The first is my thesis advisor, Dr. Robert Hallock from the University of Massachusetts. He was the first to introduce me to the world of low temperature physics. His love of and excitement for this field was contagious and will always be appreciated. After graduating, I decided to leave academia and joined Janis Research Company. At Janis, I have had the opportunity to work with a number of very talented people. In particular, I would like to point out Dr. Zuyu Zhao and Dr. Vladimir Shvarts. They have continued my education in cryogenics, especially on the engineering and business sides. They have very different styles, but they complement each other by bringing an extremely wide breadth of knowledge and experience that I have been lucky to have access to.