Innovation and Partnerships Office

Active Cryogenic Electronic Envelope 2014-038

The Berkeley Lab Active Cryogenic Electronic Envelope allows conventional front-end electronics, such as enhanced metal-oxide semiconductors, to work inside cryostats at temperatures as low as 4.2K without the expense of custom-made electronics.  

Instrumentation for cryogenic vessels used in

  • Medical diagnostic equipment
  • Aerospace industry
  • Electric power transmission
  • Gas transmission
  • Homeland security
  • Superconducting magnets
  • Industrial processes
  • High energy physics


  • Enhances the cryostat’s thermal performance and energy efficiency
  • Reduces front-end noise
  • Compatible with commercially available front-end electronics


The Berkeley Lab Active Cryogenic Electronic Envelope, a data acquisition module for superconductive magnets where the front-end electronics and digitizer coexist with the sensors inside the cryostat, allows conventional electronic technologies such as enhanced metal-oxide semiconductors to work inside cryostats at temperatures as low as 4.2K. This is achieved by careful management of heat inside the module that keeps the electronic envelope at approximately 85K. With this new technology, industry will no longer need expensive custom-made electronics designed for cryostat systems, as most commercially available electronics system will work with the invention.

Besides affordability, the Berkeley Lab technology offers several advantages over conventional systems. The low-temperature envelope surrounding the electronics reduces the thermal noise as well as the electrical noise from signals captured inside the cryostat. In addition, the invention requires less energy to stay cool than conventional technologies, as its internal front-end electronics wiring system does not go outside the cryostat and thus does not allow heat to enter the system. Housing both the sensors and the electronics inside the cryostat also shortens the distance the signals have to travel before they are digitized, improving electrical signal readout. The invention reduces the possibility of electrical breakdown inside the cryostat by using digital, low-voltage wires, and by reducing the number of lines going through the cryostat feed-through interface.

In the cryostat instrumentation and superconducting magnet industries, the performance of available cryostat instruments is currently limited by front-end electronics systems that cannot operate inside the sub-minus-50°C environment of the cryostat. To work around these temperature constraints, the cryostat and superconducting magnet industries typically rely on a data acquisition setup that places sensors inside the cryostat, and front-end electronics in room temperature conditions outside the cryostat. However, this is not an ideal setup, as the wires going out of the cryostat act like a heat sink, decreasing the cryostat’s efficiency, as more energy is needed to keep the system cold. In addition, the readout of the electrical signals coming from the sensors is likely to fail due to the poor connection between the exterior electronics and the interior sensors.

DEVELOPMENT STAGE:  Proven principle

STATUS:  Patent pending.  Available for licensing or collaborative research.


Nanotubes as Robust Thermal Conductors, IB-2335