TQD Exclusive: ICEoxford Delivers Customized Cooling Solutions for Quantum Industry

ICEOxford Founders
ICEOxford co-founders Chris Busby and Paul Kelly founded ICEoxford in 2004, building their company around customization, which has put the company in a unique position to deliver highly targeted cryogenic solutions for companies in the emerging quantum computing industry.

In all the excitement and debate about quantum computing, it might be easy to ignore an unsung hero of the quantum industry, without which there arguably would be no quantum computer, let alone a quantum computer industry — Cryogenics.

Chris Busby and Paul Kelly founded ICEoxford in 2004. The co-founders built their company around customization, which has put the company in a unique position to deliver highly targeted cryogenic solutions for companies in the emerging quantum computing industry. Most current quantum computer models operate in extremely cold temperatures.

The ICEoxford co-founders saw an immediate problem — and built their own solution. The team felt there was a lack of ultra-low temperature equipment suppliers focused on developing high performance closed cycle (DRY) cryostats.

“Many manufacturers have standardised their product range over recent years, limiting the extent to which systems can be customised,” said Chris Snelling, Sales Director at ICE. “ICE has stuck to their roots and continued to develop their product range around real life customer needs. This strategy has led to the development of an established range of systems offering some of the highest cooling powers on the market.”

The company’s strategy uniquely serves the quantum industry.

“As the Quantum market started to emerge, ICE was there to offer researchers and quantum computer developers exactly what their research required as they began to understand these requirements themselves.” said Snelling. “Since then, systems have been continuously developed in line with customer requirements allowing ICE to establish a range of systems offering some of the highest cooling powers on the market.”

Alongside the range of quantum cryostats ICE can offer, the company’s continuous development has allowed a range of technologies have emerged that let users fully customise their system for their exact experimental needs.

These include:

  • Dual cool and lightweight carbon fibre sample probes for accelerated sample cooldown
  • Large sample spaces
  • Capability for high numbers of specialised coax including silver plated high frequency coax
  • Dual axis motorised sample holders and chip carriers

While ICEoxford offers leading products to its customers, it also recognizes the need for close collaborations and ongoing relationships with its customers who are engaged in incredibly precise research processes and investigations.

“One of ICE’s founding values is to provide the best service possible to their customers,” said Snelling. “We take a collaborative approach so the purchasing process can often start months in advance of a purchase taking place. This allows us a chance to develop a solution from the initial enquiry through to design engineering, customised system testing and installations. The earlier someone gets in touch in the buying process the more we can help them achieve their research goals.”

“We take a collaborative approach so the purchasing process can often start months in advance of a purchase taking place. This allows us a chance to develop a solution from the initial enquiry through to design engineering, customised system testing and installations. The earlier someone gets in touch in the buying process the more we can help them achieve their research goals.”

Products For The Quantum Market

Right now, quantum research relies, almost exclusively, on cooling — and so does quantum’s future.

“Several researchers have reported silicon spin qubit devices that can operate at temperatures above 1 Kelvin,” said Snelling. “The ability to operate at higher temperatures than the milli kelvin temperatures required for traditional quantum computing applications may be the key to the scaling up required for future commercial quantum computers.”

The machine is a top loading system that allows samples to be changed without warming up the entire system so that a probe cooldown to 1.3K can be achieved in less than 90 minutes.

According to the team, the system can handle high heat loads, with cooling powers of 400mW at 1.7K and 500mW at 2.3K, some of the highest cooling powers available at these temperatures. One of the company’s most popular design has been the 85mm diameter Variable Temperature Insert (VTI). However, other diameters including 30mm, 50mm, 70mm and 100mm are also available.

“The sample space can be customised to include our range of sample holders and chip carriers to enable up to 6 axes of sample movement and rotation,” Snelling said. “Other customisations include the addition of a magnet and optical access, custom wiring including up to 52 coax.”

Cooling for Quantum

Most people know that cooling is integral to the quantum technology industry, but there are a range of cryogenic technologies available for quantum, not just fridges.

“Most people think of the larger dilution fridges for quantum computing applications, but we’ve seen a lot of interest in our DRY ICE 1.5K VTI Series which is compatible with our Dilution Inserts,” said Snelling “These achieve milli Kelvin temperatures over a smaller sample space, enabling faster cooldown times than their larger counterparts. Combining these probes with our warming boxes enables rapid sample turnaround times, perfect for sample pre-screening. For example, our ICECP 30mK Dilution Insert works inside a 70mm VTI (other sizes available) and can reach 30mK in 12 hours and sustain a cooing power of 40µW at 100mK including coax lines and a dual axis rotating sample holder.”

“Our range of DRY ICE 1K Cryostats are perfect for this developing technology as they can take large heat loads, including up to 100 coax, over a large sample space which can be held at temperatures below 1.0K.”

The DRY ICE 1K Series is a key tool for the development of silicon-based quantum computing research.

“Our range of DRY ICE 1K Cryostats are perfect for this developing technology as they can take large heat loads, including up to 100 coax, over a large sample space which can be held at temperatures below 1.0K,” Snelling added.

About ICE 

ICEoxford was founded in 2004 to design and manufacture specialist Ultra Low Temperature (ULT) and High Magnetic Field equipment for the cryogenic research community. Since then the company has grown to become a leading supplier of custom design, high performance cryogenic systems to scientific and cryogenic research groups throughout the world. At the heart of this success is its commitment to find solutions for the cryogenic community. Delivering high quality products, outstanding customer support with excellent levels of personal service from its expert technical staff.

Matt Swayne
Matt Swayne
Matt Swayne is a contributor at The Quantum Daily. He focuses on breaking news about quantum discoveries and quantum computing. Matt enjoys working on -- and with -- startups and is currently working on a media studies master's degree, specializing in science communication.

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