300 Below’s cryogenic tempering process is a two part process utilizing ultra low temperature treatment (cryogenic) followed by a triple heat temper (tempering) that helps to stabilize molecular structures in optical assets in order to enhance image collection and data transmission. 300 Below’s cryogenic treatment of optics also provides stress relief and stabilization necessary for joined metal components to uniformly expand and contract during temperature swings.
When deep space optics travel from the surface of earth through our atmosphere and into deep space, they are exposed to extremes in temperatures both hot and cold. As a result of 300 Below’s cryogenic processing, metal structures shift at the molecular level, which can jeopardize the structural integrity of sensitive optical housing groups and devices.
Temperature extremes can reach as low as 2.7 Kelvin (-270.45˚C, -454.81˚F) in deep space, and shift upward in atmospheres and orbits irradiated by the hot surface of the sun, as metal components expand and contract at differing rates, potentially causing stress cracks or shifts to the housing groups of sensitive components if they are not cryogenically treated. As a result, metal structures enduring expansion and contraction may jeopardize structural integrity of sensitive optical devices and other payloads.
It is nearly impossible to ensure uniformity during the gathering or transmission of radio signals and images (light) when stress is further imparted and stabilization is reduced in the structure. Stress concentration areas can impede vibrational dissipation (causing transmission of vibrational distortion during image gathering) and impede uniformity of expansion of metal structures when these variations in heating or cooling occur. Optical distortion results, while transmission speeds from distorted or impeded radio signals can also present issues for the optical device and space based asset during collection or transmission.
What are the most common problems with the space optics?
- Uniformity of signal can be significantly impeded
- Aluminum housing bodies corrode
- Residual stresses
- Fatigue cracking
- The microstructure of the material may contain inclusions and voids
What space optic materials benefit from cryogenic processing?
- 7075 AL
- 6061-T6 Condition AL
What space optic components benefit from cryogenic treatment?
- Optical bench
- Optical mounts
- Optical array
- Camera bodies
What benefits space optics can obtain through cryogenic treatment?
- Stress relief and stabilization for uniformity
- Reduction in corrosion
- Improved heat transmissivity
- Flex-fatigue enhancement