(EurekaAlert) Researchers at the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) have invented a miniature thermometer with big potential applications such as monitoring the temperature of processor chips in superconductor-based quantum computers, which must stay cold to work properly.
“This was a fun idea that quickly grew into something very helpful,” group leader Joel Ullom said. “The thermometer allows researchers to measure the temperature of a wide range of components in their test packages at very little cost and without introducing a large number of additional electrical connections. This has the potential to benefit researchers working in quantum computing or using low-temperature sensors in a wide range of fields.”
NIST’s superconducting thermometer measures temperatures below 1 Kelvin (minus 272.15 ?C or minus 457.87 ?F), down to 50 milliKelvin (mK) and potentially 5 mK. It is smaller, faster and more convenient than conventional cryogenic thermometers for chip-scale devices and could be mass produced.
The NIST thermometer measures temperature in about 5 milliseconds (thousandths of a second), much faster than most conventional resistive thermometers at about one-tenth of a second. The NIST thermometers are also easy to fabricate in only a single process step. They can be mass produced, with more than 1,200 fitting on a 3-inch (approximately 75-millimeter) silicon wafer.