ESO Signs Technology Transfer Licence Agreement for Cooling System

9 June 2015

ESO has signed an agreement to license its cooling system technology to the Spanish company FRACTAL SLNE. This follows earlier technology transfer agreements regarding the licensing of cutting-edge laser technology that were made by ESO in 2010 [1]. Such licences offer significant opportunities both for industry and for ESO.

Continuous flow cooling systems were first developed at ESO for the cooling of instruments and detectors for the Very Large Telescope (VLT). The technology has been used intensively during the last decade.

Continuous flow systems are more compact than traditional systems that use a bath of very cold liquid, but share the advantage of being vibration free [2]. The continuous flow system allows the temperature within an instrument to be changed from room temperature to –193 degrees Celsius and is not affected by the loss of electrical power. As a result, the instrument can be kept very close to its operating temperature and the vacuum within the instrument can be retained.

This agreement includes the licensing of the well-proven cryostats (which regulate the low temperatures) that are used to cool individual detectors from room temperature down to –193 degrees Celsius and the more sophisticated version that is used for the cooling of the ultra-stable detectors [3] used in more sensitive measurements.

Technology transfer encourages the widespread use of ESO’s know-how. Businesses can benefit from regulated access and from licensing the new technology to increase their industrial competitiveness and product spectrum. ESO can also benefit from the use of its technology as an industry standard, ensuring its long-term availability. This non-exclusive licensing means a greater choice of suppliers in future for ESO, enhancing ESO’s relationships and close contacts with industry, and incidentally fulfilling one of its missions, the transfer of technology to a wider marketplace.


[1] In 2010, ESO transferred its patented technology for the first time in an agreement to license its cutting-edge laser technology to two commercial partners, Toptica Photonics and MPB Communications.

[2] Such vibration-free continuous flow cooling systems are the best, and possibly the only, systems that will be able to satisfy the very demanding cooling requirements of the E-ELT.

[3] The ultra-stable detector is used for thermally insulated radial velocity spectrographs, instruments which can be used to measure the change in frequency of light along the line of sight between two objects to determine their velocity. Such methods can be used to detect and determine the properties of exoplanets.



Jean-Louis Lizon
ESO, Head of Integration and Cryo-vacuum Department
Garching bei München, Germany
Tel: +49 89 3200 6780

Richard Hook
ESO, Public Information Officer
Garching bei München, Germany
Tel: +49 89 3200 6655
Cell: +49 151 1537 3591

Enikõ Patkós
Risk and Intellectual Property Manager
Cabinet of the Director General, ESO
Garching bei Muenchen,  Germany
Tel: +49 89 3200 6811

About the Announcement



The MUSE instrument on the VLT: equipped with 24 continuous flow cooling systems
The MUSE instrument on the VLT: equipped with 24 continuous flow cooling systems