How cold can you get in space? Quantum Physics at cryogenic temperatures in space

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Gerald Hechenblaikner
Fabian Hufgard
Johannes Burkhardt
Nikolai Kiesel
Ulrich Johann
Markus Aspelmeyer
Rainer Kaltenbaek


arXiv:1309.3234v2 [quant-ph]

Although it is often believed that the coldness of space is ideally suited for performing measurements at cryogenic temperatures, this must be regarded with caution for two reasons: Firstly, the sensitive instrument must be completely shielded from the strong solar radiation and therefore, e.g. either be placed inside a satellite or externally on the satellite’s shaded side. Secondly, any platform hosting such an experiment in space generally provides an environment close to room temperature for the accommodated equipment. To obtain cryogenic temperatures without active cooling, one must isolate the instrument from radiative and conductive heat exchange with the platform as well as possible. We investigate the limits of this passive cooling method in the context of a recently proposed experiment to observe the decoherence of quantum superpositions of massive objects. The analyses and conclusions are applicable to a host of similar experimental designs requiring a cryogenic environment in space.