RAL Cryogenics

My Interview

Other stuff

What are you doing at Harwell Open Day?

On the open day we are doing some fun demonstrations to try to explain why working with cryogenics is useful, and also what some of the challenges are. People will be able to walk through our lab, and see some of the bench-top experiments that we are currently running and talk to members of the cryogenics group.

How does it relate to you work?

You’ll be able to see where we work, what applications we’re working on (space, particle accelerators etc) and what the challenges are.

What is the take home message?

1. Cryogenics is more useful than most people think. 

2. The cryogenics group here has a strong heritage of developing superconducting magnets for particle accelerators and cryocoolers for use in space.

3. We don’t freeze dead people.


How long did you take to prepare for Harwell Open Day?

Quite a while… we wanted to be able to show our lab to everyone so they could really see what it was like where we work, but we’ve had to hide some of the more dangerous things (like bottles storing gases at high pressure) and some sensitive equipment we don’t want to risk damaging. There’s still plently of stuff left in there though – like some cryocoolers currently being tested, our microvibration measurement rig and the magnet winding machine.


Why are you taking part in Harwell Open Day?

We think the work we do is really exciting and interesting, and that cryogenics has an impact on the UK’s economy and technological ability – but we understand that most people don’t even know what cryogenics means, let alone why it’s important. So we’d like to take this opportunity show you what we do and why.

Exhibit photos:

Our area is a combination of some demonstrations and some exhibits about work we do now, and the work that has been done historically in our area.


The demonstrations cover broadly what work we do  in areas space exploration, earth observation and particle physics – the focus in this area is on cryogenics and also material properties. Its a bit of a mix of things we do now and some displays of things from the past.

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There is also a couple of cool interactive parts to the exhibit, like this thermal imaging camera….


My favorite bit is definitely the demonstrations – we’ll be squashing tomatoes to measure their properties, stretching steel and (most importantly) making some ice-cream with Liquid Nitrogen.


We’ve bought quite a lot of ingredients for the ice-cream so hopefully you’ll come and enjoy some!