Measuring Cryogenic Temperatures with Light and Plastic

Measuring Cryogenic Temperatures with Light and Plastic

Author: Jenna Pope

Matthew Frenkel and Zhixiong Guo, Rutgers University, Piscataway, NJ, USA, have developed a polymer-based sensor with real-time monitoring of the temperature in cryogenic environments. Such cryogenic sensors could be used to determine the critical temperature of superconductivity in materials.

The sensor consists of a nichrome wire coated with polydimethylsiloxane beads. The temperature was measured by the change in resonance frequency of whispering-gallery light waves. As light waves travel around the spherical polymer beads, the resonance wavelength changes linearly with response to temperature. This is the first report of polydimethylsiloxane showing whispering-gallery waves.

The sensor could measure temperatures down to 95 K, which was the lowest temperature reached by the researchers’ cryogenic working environment. Temperatures as high as 140 K could be measured. The sensors were quite sensitive, determining temperatures to within 0.01 K.


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