For five years, Thales Cryogenics has led a new development cycle in order to design and deliver a new generation of
SWaP cryocoolers. Both linear and rotary Stirling coolers have been developed.
SWaP coolers are especially designed to cool the emerging High Operating Temperature IR detector (HOT). Insofar as
optimal detector performance for HOT technologies are still challenging, Thales forced himself to develop a rotary
cooler that can cool detector at intermediate cold temperatures, ie. 90 to 140K, even if the optimal performances are
reached for 150K.
A first demonstrator was shown during the SPIE2015 exhibition. That prototype was useful to investigate technologies to
be introduced in order to drastically improve the compactness and the weight. Both aspects were reduced by 50%
compared to a legacy RM2. The achieved compactness was identified as an optimal trade-off between mass and volume
versus the associated production costs.
Last year, Thales worked on new prototypes of the RMs1 SWaP rotary cooler. That product is the results of the previous
R&T and design phases, on one hand, and the adoption of generic standards on interfaces like the cold finger in order to
simplify integration – and thus reduce overall cost – by our customers on the other hand. Associated performances were
presented and commented.
The current paper is focused on the qualification results obtained at the end of 2017. Especially, the available cooling
power versus the cold temperature will be shared, next to other important key cryogenics performances such as the cool
down time for dedicated detectors, characterized by a thermal masses and operational temperatures. Moreover, a
particular effort has been made on other “soft” performances, in order to greatly improve the user experience, that is to
say noise and induced vibrations. At last, first lifetime figures for the RMs1 are also presented and commented.
As a conclusion, the compliance of the RMs1 performances with expectations for HOT IR detectors is discussed, in
order to highlight the next steps of the development of the SWaP cryocoolers.
Keywords: Cryogenics, Rotary stirling cooler, IR detector, HOT, SWaP
Christophe Vassea, Cédric Seguineaua, Jean-Yves Martina, Sébastien Van-Ackera, Mikel Sacaua,
Julien Le Bordaysa, Thierry Etchanchua, Christian Abadiea, Sylvain Chaumeaua, Tonny Benschopb
aThales LAS France S.A.S., 4 Rue Marcel Doret BP70022, F-31701 Blagnac FRANCE;
bThales Cryogenics B.V., Hooge Zijde 14, 5626 DC Eindhoven, Netherlands.