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Celebrating 50years
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Remembering Eric Swartz, founder of Desert Cryogenics

Eric SwartzIn 2004, Lake Shore acquired Desert Cryogenics, a company whose roots were intertwined with those of Lake Shore’s. The company itself was founded in 1995 by David Swartz’s son Eric, whose technical brilliance was demonstrated earlier when, at the age of 17, he designed his first cryostat, a 4.5 K refrigerator, while working a summer job at Lake Shore. Later, while a grad student at Cornell, he developed an improved helium-3 cryostat that could be inserted into a standard helium-4 Dewar, enabling routine measurements to be conducted at temperatures from 0.28 K to more than 400 K. This design and similar cryostat designs were published in the Review of Scientific Instruments.

Eric ended up earning a PhD in Physics from Cornell in 1986, and his dissertation on thermal boundary resistance at cryogenic temperatures was later published in the Review of Modern Physics. This research extended the mathematical understanding of Kapitza resistance, and since its publishing, has been cited numerous times in the technical literature.

Eric was regarded as one of the top cryogenic system designers of his time. As an entrepreneur, his Arizona-based Desert Cryogenics soon became a leading provider of cryogenic probe stations in the world, supplying cryogenic systems for TRW Inc., IBM, Hughes Technologies, and others.


Desert Cryogenics logo 

Sadly, Eric Swartz passed away in September of 2001 following a long battle with leukemia.

Because the Desert Cryogenics product line complimented the Lake Shore product line so well—our sensors and instruments were already being used in Desert stations—Lake Shore purchased the company from the family several years later.

Desert Cryogenics catalogThis acquisition proved to be a significant one for Lake Shore. It enabled better engagement with researchers involved in studying nanoscale electronic and magneto-transport materials, a field that continues to grow. Researchers have used such stations to test on-wafer nanoscale devices under vacuum and at variable temperatures at the earliest stages of the device development process. In addition to benefiting nanoscale device R&D, cryogenic probing has also aided in the study of transition metal dichalcogenide (TMD) and 2D material transistors as well as GaN and other wide-bandgap devices.

Lake Shore also continues to expand on the technology obtained from Desert Cryogenics. In 2008, Lake Shore revamped the product portfolio to include tabletop and closed-cycle refrigerator-based, cryogen-free probe station models, which eliminated the operating expense of liquid helium. Then, in 2013, Lake Shore introduced a new continuously variable temperature (CVT) probe, developed in collaboration with TOYO Corporation, which allowed for true, continuous unattended wafer probing of a material sample across a range of temperatures.