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What are Cryogenic Low Noise Amplifiers?

By KNS Rao

Former Project Director, IRNSS, ISRO

Cryogenic Low Noise Amplifiers

Cryogenic Low Noise Amplifiers also popularly known as Cryogenic LNAs belong to a special kind of Low Noise Amplifiers. The distinguishing feature of the Cryogenic LNA is the extremely low noise temperature provided by the Cryogenic LNA which is not possible in the normal LNAs.

The term “Cryogenic” gets added since the Amplifiers have to be operated at very low temperatures, of the order of 4 to 10 degrees kelvin. These Amplifiers are specially designed to operate at cryogenic temperatures. The Cryogenic LNAs are able to provide very low noise performance since the large contributor of noise, namely the thermal noise is minimized.

Even though the process of providing such a low temperature environment is rather difficult, certain critical applications justify the use of these Amplifiers. These applications are:

  1. Quantum Computing
  2. Deep Space Communication
  3. Radio Astronomy, among the prominent ones

The ability to provide amplification of extremely weak signals without adding much noise is paramount in these applications.

Cryogenic LNAs are a truly remarkable technology that has had a profound impact on experimental science.


We now see that Cryogenic LNAs are slowly emerging from the background and catching attention since applications like Quantum Computing are gaining a lot of importance.

Many front-ranking institutions from various countries are racing against time to be first in line to build usable Quantum Computer systems. Similarly, research organizations across the world are experimenting on various facets of this critical technology.

The Cryogenic LNA has its own role to play in the game of Quantum Computing. The role is to lift the extremely weak RF signals coming out of qubits and make it suitable for further processing. Use of normal LNAs would have added additional noise resulting in corruption of the signal to unusable levels.

The same is the case with Deep Space Communication. Signals from Deep Space travel a large distance and become very weak by the time they reach the Earth. The ground stations on Earth employ huge Antennas to catch the weak signals. When used in such Deep Space ground stations, Cryogenic LNAs help reduce the size of the antenna which in turn reduces overall cost. Nowadays, these Cryogenic LNAs are a regular part of the Deep Space Networks.

These amplifiers have matured in terms of design, commercial availability and dependability across applications. Today one can routinely procure commercially available Cryogenic LNAs providing as low as 1.5K Noise Temperature operating at 5K. State of the Art Cryogenic LNAs are available from as low as 0.2GHz to as high as 115GHz.

In India, there is a growing interest in the Cryogenic LNAs, thanks to the support from the Government for activities related to Quantum Computing and the associated research activities. There are users of Cryogenic LNAs across the country who are looking into various aspects of Quantum research. The resulting ecosystem is helping to build competence in the country not only in the use of Cryogenic LNA, but also in all the associated RF elements like the Cryogenic Isolators, Circulators, Attenuators, Cables and Connectors.

Globetek works with Low Noise Factory, a Sweden-based firm which has established itself as the world’s leading manufacturer of Low Noise Amplifiers.

We help procure, install and service these systems for customers in India.

If you wish to enquire more about Low Noise Factory’s Cryogenic LNAs or simply wish to discuss more about this field with our in-house experts, please feel free to write to us.

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