Low Temperature Laboratory
Low Temperature Laboratory (LTL) is one of the research flagships of Aalto University. It was founded in 1965 by Academician Olli V. Lounasmaa, and it is one of the world centers in ultra low temperature physics and technology. The leading position is based on vigorous in-house development and construction of sub-mK refrigerators. LTL is the home base for the national Centre of Excellence on Low Temperature Quantum Phenomena and Devices (LTQ). As part of the Otaniemi Research Infrastructure for Micro- and Nanotechnologies, LTL infrastructures serve local scientists, and as part of the European Microkelvin Platform it is also recognized as an important national and international access-giving service site.
The long tradition of pioneering research, with multiple technological and methodological innovations in LTL has lead to emerge of several spin-off companies. They have shown competitive edge all over the world in the fields of e.g. modern refrigeration, low-temperature instrumentation, and human brain imaging.
Low Temperature Research
Our main focus in the low temperature research lies on intricate properties of fermion superfluids, interfaces in quantum materials, dissipative processes when approaching the absolute zero, and discovery of new types of ordered systems at record low temperatures. The experimental work of ROTA and µKI -groups is complemented with highly appreciated theorists of the field.
In nanophysics we focus on control of charge, flux, phonons, and microwave irradiation at the ultimate accuracy governed by quantum mechanics. Conversion between these quantities is employed for developing new paradigms and novel sensor applications. The experimental work of NANO, PICO, KVANTTI and NEMS -groups is complemented with highly appreciated theorists of the field.
In 1994 Academy of Finland recognized the achievements of LTL by naming it one of the 12 national Centers of Excellence (CoE). Since then LTL has coordinated another two CoEs, one in low temperature physics and one in brain research. Today LTL is coordinating one CoE in low temperature physics.
Training Scientists and Engineers of Tomorrow
LTL has a productive history in graduate and post-graduate education. During its first 50 years, over 150 students have earned their PhD degree working in our laboratory, mainly on physics problems but also on mathematics, neurosciences, medicine, and on psychology. About 40% of our PhDs are now employed by the private sector, most of them by medical instrumentation and telecommunications industry. The rest of them work in hospitals or in government research laboratories. Twelve of our PhDs have held professorships in Finnish universities and three in the United States of America.
From Basic Research to Spinoff Companies
In basic and applied research the progress of LTL is the result of new technology: New experimental approaches, based on homemade innovative instruments to bridge some critical gap, have provided the central starting point. Combining nuclear cooling devices are examples of innovations which have provided the competitive scientific edge. The spin-off companies of LTL, e.g, in the field of modern refrigeration and low temperature instrumentation have shown competitiveness all over the world.
Meeting Challenges of the Future
The dedicated experimental and theoretical efforts in the laboratory translate most LTL's research lines to a commanding position in their specialty. However, it is difficult to identify narrow and upcoming topics with sufficiently important scientific implications. This is a process which requires vision, expertise, and a certain amount of continuity.
New and fundamentally important discoveries are still expected in ultralow temperature physics. The field is dominated by intriguing quantum phenomena, leading to extraordinary behavior and to novel properties of matter. The discoveries will enrich our understanding of superfluidity, superconductivity, macroscopic quantum tunneling, and perhaps even elucidate the Big Bang at the beginning of the Universe.