OFHC UltraFlex™ I is our 0.10" diameter cabling. It was developed by our engineers in 2016, is only available from TAI, and is specifically designed to provide increased flexibility, while maintaining the same diameter and thermal performance of our previous TAI Standard OFHC copper braid. CuTS® assemblies made with OFHC UltraFlex™ cabling offer >65% flexibility on the compression axis (X), and average >25% flexibility on the Y and Z axes than other commercial straps and shunts using braided (flat and rope) materials. Though our team has extensive experience with multiple cable and braid types, all of our custom and standard CuTS® come standard with our OFHC UltraFlex™ I and II Copper Cabling.
OFHC UltraFlex™ II is our 0.20" diameter copper cabling and is used in custom and standard models. UltraFlex II is unique in the industry, is only available from TAI, and is the industry's most flexible 0.20" diameter cabling. This cabling is ideal for customers with larger heat dissipation needs with the available volume to accommodate thicker end fittings.
In addition to US National Laboratory thermal conductance qualification in the mK and 1K - 10K range, TAI's CuTS® products have successfully passed several life cycle flex tests, of up to 1 Million flex cycles on the compression axis. To view videos of the life cycle flex tests, click here now.
Pictured (Bottom): TAI CuTS® Models P60-501 and P60-502, using our exclusive OFHC UltraFlex™ II (July 2019).
Aluminum End Fittings (Hybrid Copper Thermal Straps)
Aluminum end fittings are available on all of our standard and custom CuTS® products. Aluminum fittings are 70% lighter than their copper counterparts and have a negligible impact on thermal performance. This option is available at no additional cost, and our expert technicians can also directly integrate our OFHC UltraFlex I and II Cabling into aluminum cold plates, adapter/extension brackets, and other components.
Pictured: Custom CuTS® with Al 6061 fittings; SUrface Dust Analyzer instrument on the Europa Clipper Mission (March 2019).
Gold & Nickel Plated CuTS®
CuTS® are available with gold and nickel-plating options exclusive to TAI. For customers requiring gold plating, we offer multiple diffusion barrier options (both magnetic and non-magnetic), and straps can be plated to certain ASTM standards (B-488 Type I & III, Code C & D, for example). However, our two most popular gold plating options are TAI's "Lab Grade" (99.7% pure gold, non-magnetic diffusion barrier), and our "NASA Grade" (99.99% pure, "hard gold" plating, with a Knoop Hardness of 180, and electroless ni diffusion barrier). Plating does increase unit cost and lead time by 1 - 2 weeks (depending on plating type); so plan accordingly.
TAI designs, assembles, plates, and cleans our thermal straps using proprietary methods (developed by our experts), to each assembly is as clean as possible. While customers consider them UHV-compatible/ready, we recommend a vacuum bake-out prior to installation in UHV and optical applications (as we cannot guarantee cleanliness to a specific spec). RGA Spectra analysis proves TAI's plated straps are as clean as non-plated CuTS® that are ultrasonically cleaned and subjected to a standard vacuum bake out (24 hours at 150C).
LAB GRADE Gold Plating - JANIS ST-400 Cryostat
LAB GRADE Gold Plating
LAB GRADE (with Bare Copper CuTS for Reference)
Using our plating technique, there is virtually no measurable impact to flexibility/stiffness of the copper cables.
Pictured (Top Left): P6-501 units with Nickel and Gold Plating, Post-Bake out and RGA Spectra Analysis (August 2017).
Gold & Nickel-Plated Al-Cu Hybrid Thermal Straps
Developed in 2019 and exclusively offered by TAI, our experts now provide the world's only nickel and gold plated Al-Cu hybrid thermal links. Previously, it was only possible to plate straps made entirely of copper OR aluminum ropes and foils, due to the chemicals and processes required with traditional metallization/plating. Now, customers requiring the corrosion protection of electroless nickel or gold, and the thermal performance of OFHC copper cables, can have the added benefit of lightweight aluminum end fittings (reducing overall assembly mass as much as ~60%, depending on rope length); making Al-Cu hybrid straps an attractive option for many spaceflight and airborne systems for defense and commercial applications.
|P5-502 Al-Cu Hybrid Strap (June 2019)
||P5-502 Al-Cu Hybrid with Electroless Nickel Plating (August 2019)
Gold Plating Thermal Straps for Cryogenic Applications
Contact resistance at cryogenic temperatures affects a large number of important terrestrial and spaceflight applications. These include space-based detectors, ground-based dark matter and dark energy experiments, electronic packaging of superconducting circuits, and most cryogen-free systems which are conductively cooled via cryocoolers. Additionally, engineers working with dilution refrigerators, cryostats, and cold boxes are often equally-sensitive to thermal contact resistance losses, and in need of a means improve efficiency.
Poor thermal contact can lead to longer cool-down times, poor thermal equilibrium between samples and the cooler, and large temperature gradients across the contact for small heat flows during operation. These problems become more severe as operating temperature decreases, thus, the need for gold plating increases.
Due to its low oxygen affinity, gold plating of copper fittings and cables is a highly effective solution to prevent oxidation and achieve electronic thermal conductance across interfaces. Additionally, surface oxide of gold breaks at a low applied load, thereby giving a larger probability of achieving a metallic contact. Gold also has a lower surface hardness than copper, and as a result, gold plated contacts have a larger area of physical contact, and therefore, lower thermal resistance for a given applied force. Gold plating also is used to minimize the absorption of radiant heat, and TAI's gold plating options offer the lowest surface emittance in the industry.
Pictured (Top Right): NASA GRADE Gold Plating CuTS®.
CuTS® Spaceflight Heritage
The list below details just a handful of the missions our CuTS® products have flown, or will be launching on, shortly:
In 2016 - 2019, TAI provided over 1,500 prototype, "proto-flight," and FM CuTS® assemblies for numerous space programs (and for nearly all commercial crew/manned spacecraft programs). Our customers include: Lockheed, NASA, Ball, Airbus, OHB, Thales, L-3, Honeywell, Harris Corp., MIT, Orbital ATK, Surrey Satellite (SSTL), ABB, Micos, and many others.
Pictured: NASA Engineer prepares the GEDI Sensor (complete with 9 CuTS®), for launch (Fall 2018).
CuTS® for University Research Programs
TAI offers unique partnership and support opportunities for our university (and some) national laboratory customers across the globe. From exclusive offers and reduced pricing of our CuTS® products, to complimentary thermal system design and manufacturing services for cutting-edge programs in the areas of physics, chemistry, and aerospace engineering, our team is happy to help!
Visit our University Showcase Page for a small sample of previous participants in our program, and contact TAI today to learn how we can help.