How It Works

Top 5 Facts: Cryogenics

Cool and clear

Cryogenic cooling drastically reduces signal-to-noise ratio, which is why NASA cools its microwave receivers to cryogenic temperatures for deep-space communications.

Colder, faster

Microprocessors in computers run faster when they’re cold. Supercomputers have been built with their processors immersed in liquid nitrogen, doubling processing power.

Dr Freeze

Cryosurgery can be used to remove early-stage cancerous and non-cancerous growths. A dab of liquid nitrogen totally kills the tumour without damaging any local tissue.

Cryo foods

Your freezer contains many goods that are flash frozen with liquid nitrogen-based processes. Cryogenics also supercools cookies in commercial bakeries.

Iced lice

Some pest-control companies are using carbon dioxide ‘snow’, a kind of foamy dry ice. The blast of snow kills bugs and eggs, and the non-toxic ice dissolves into gas, leaving no water damage.

For more about cryogenics, check out our “Cryogenics Explained” feature in issue 31 of How It Works, on sale now.