Site Statistics

Online users
Today visit
Yesterday visit
Last week visit
Last month visit
Total visit
Most visit



Cryogenic pumps

Dry pumps have many advantages, because of the lack of oil. Cryogenic pumps were one of the first type of dry pumps, which were very simple. Simply put, these pumps use of cold trap technique. This means that by creating cool areas, which will be discussed at following, the gases become dens, Unlike many pumps, the gases are not removed from pumps but trapped inside a cold head

To create a cold trap is used the liquid helium or liquid nitrogen, which are circulated in a closed path, inside the pump. Liquid helium has temperature of 2.4 Kelvin, (-268.8 0c) but sometimes liquid nitrogen (77 K) is used instead

At these pumps, because of use of very low temperature, instead of Celsius units is used Kelvin units. Recall that, per Celsius degree is equivalent to 274.15 Kelvin.

Pumping process, as shown in Figure 1, is carried out in three phases and during these steps, three different sets of gas become condense

                                                                                 Figure 1: Inside view of a cryogenic pumps

The first area is kept at a temperature of 77 k, to condense water vapor and other gases at this temperature, and then collected. The second area is kept at temperature 10-20 k, and then are condensed the gases such as argon, oxygen and nitrogen, finally, at third area is used from a porous material such as charcoal, which kept such as the second area at temperature 10-20 k.

Because, the gases such as hydrogen, helium and neon don't being condensed easily at such temperature. Refrigerating absorption, in cold porous surfaces, fade out effectively such gases from the chamber. Figure 2 shows the real face of the cryogenic pump. The advantage of this system is the need to movement and rotation of equipment inside the chamber, and therefore, don't need to lubrication, which is very important in deposition process. Care must be taken that the trapped gases must be cleaned periodically, this cleaning is done in different forms


Figure 2: real view of a cryogenic pump

The most common of them is pumping the cryogenic pump, by one mechanical pump. So that, when the main valve of pump (valve, between pump and vacuum chamber) is closed, heating the cryogenic pumps, and then, one carrier gas (usually nitrogen) is inserted into a cryogenic pump and on the other hand is pumped by rotary pump and thus, being outside all gases and vapors through the pump

ryo Pump Operation

A cryo pump works by freezing water vapor, oil, and others gases out of the atmosphere within the users vacuum chamber or system.  The water and gases are frozen onto the various arrays located inside the cryo pump.  The cryo pump operates on the principle of closed-cycle refrigeration.  This process is very similar to how a standard household refrigerator works, but using a slightly different arrangement.  The cryo system consists of a helium compressor, a cryo pump, and interconnecting helium lines.  Inside the cryo pump there is a  motor driven multi-stage piston assembly (called a displacer).  The compressed helium from the compressor flows into the piston assembly, and as the piston moves the helium gas expands and cools.  As the piston returns it pushes the helium out of the cryopump and back to the compressor.  This helium is re-compressed and the cycle repeats.  During each cycle a little more heat is removed from the arrays and they continue to cool down until the second stage reaches about 9 to 10 Kelvin.  This is the lowest operating temperature of most cryopumps.

Cryopump Layout

The inside components of a cryo pump usually consist of the following:

a) a thermal shield

b) a condensing array

c) a low temperature array

d) a cold head cylinder

The thermal shield is attached to the first stage of the cold head cylinder and helps to minimize the temperature loss between the inner array and the cryo vacuum vessel wall.  The 80K condensing array attaches to the top of the thermal shield thus maintaining a temperature of roughly 60 to 120K.  This condensing array freezes out most of the water and oil that enters the cryo pump.  Lower freezing point gases pass through this array and freeze out on the 15K lower temperature array which is attached to the second stage area of the cold head cylinder.  The 15K array usually consists of metal fins that have a cryo-adsorbant (such as activated charcoal) attached to the fins in a shielded area.  Most of the gases freeze out on the 15K array fins, but since helium and hydrogen won’t freeze at this temperature the cold charcoal adsorbs and traps the helium and hydrogen.

Precautions and Misconceptions Regarding Cryopumps

Cryo pump users should always remember that a cryo pump stores all the gases that exist within the users vacuum chamber during operation.  If the cryo pump is not isolated from the vacuum chamber during shutdown and warm-up, all of the stored gases within the cryo pump will re-enter the users vacuum chamber.  If the cryo pump is valved off or isolated from the vacuum chamber, as the cryo pump warms, the stored gases will build up pressure within the cryo pump until the pressure reaches the level (approx 14 to 16 psi) that opens the pressure relief valve on the cryopump.  The gases stored are then released to the atmosphere.

Caution:  Pumping oxygen, hydrogen, or other combustible gases with a cryo pump can create a real danger of explosion during cryo pump warm-up.  Follow all the safety methods provided by the cryo pump manufacturer when pumping such gases.  Pumping of toxic or corrosive gases also require proper safety methods in order to prevent the release of these gases to the atmosphere.  Altering the over-pressure valve on the cryo pump can have severe consequences, and should not be done.

Misconception#1 – Many users often believe that a high background of helium gas in their chamber is caused by the helium within the high pressure circuit of the cryo pump leaking into their chamber.  Although this is possible, it is almost never the case.  A high helium background is usually caused by too high a base temperature within the cryo pump, or a condition where the 15K array is too saturated or frozen over to where it can no longer trap the helium within the pump.  The solution to the high base temperature problem is to check the base temperature of the cryo pump with the pump blanked-off and under no load.  The base temperature should be less than 15K.  If it is running at a higher temperature, then the displacer in the pump may need an overhaul that can be performed here at TFS Technologies, Inc..  It is also possible that the cryo pump was not roughed out to a low enough pressure during its initial cool-down or that there is an external leak.  This would cause the arrays in the pump to freeze over and overload the ability of the pump to reach a lower temperature.  This is often indicated by a condensation or frost layer forming on the outside of the cryo pump body.  To solve the saturated or frozen 15K array problem, first solve the temperature problem if there is one, or else replace the 15K array.  The 15K array can get contaminated by pump oil during the rough down or the operating cycle.  It is always recommended to have an oil trap in the rough line or use a drypump with cryo pumped systems.

Misconception#2 – “My cryo pump sounds like it is tearing itself apart! It must be broken!”  A cryo pump will sometimes make a severe grinding noise or ratcheting sound.  This can mean that something inside the displacer has broken or come loose, but usually it is simpler than that.  Dirty helium in the compressor circuit usually caused by water vapor that entered the lines during hookup and disconnect will cause this ratcheting noise.  The water in the helium freezes out on the piston cylinder walls in the displacer and the piston grinds against this ice making the ratcheting or grinding noise.  If not resolved soon the piston will eventually jam and seize up the pump.  Even worse, the jamming can cause the motor shaft to break in half meaning an expensive repair.  To solve the ratcheting problem, decontaminate the helium circuit in the pump, compressor, and helium lines following the instructions in your pump manufacturers manual.  This problem can also occur if the compressor adsorber has not been changed at its regular service interval.  It can also occur if the compressor starts blowing oil due to age.  You can help prevent this problem by changing the compressor adsorber every 10000 hrs of use (TFS Technologies can supply your replacement adsorbers), and by being careful not to leak helium from the connectors during hookup and removal of the helium lines.  If none of these solutions work, then ship your cryo pump to TFS and we will evaluate the problem, inform you of the results, and repair the pump for you


Book: Coating fundamental and nanostructure analysis, jahanbakhsh mashaiekhy, iup,2015