Publication Date


Document Type


First Advisor

Salehinia, Iman

Degree Name

M.S. (Master of Science)

Legacy Department

Department of Mechanical Engineering


This research was centered around maximizing the capability to cool dielectric material within a containment unit, or Photonic Band Gap (PBG) cavity, designed for detecting axion dark matter and identifying the unit’s thermal properties. There are multiple types of PBG cavities, but the latest version that axion researchers wish to use has been theorized to contain possible issues related to its thermal properties. Thermal conductivity is an issue with the dielectric material because it is made from alumina which is highly insulative. This is important since the research is being done in a cryogenic environment and the thermal noise affects the quantum bit used for detecting the axion to photon conversion process. Therefore, any improvements to this unit should be justified and implemented but are not entirely limited to thermal contact related aspects of PBG cavities. A prospect of using sapphire in place of alumina also exists, but this is a more expensive, less tested, and more elusive material to justify the creation of a full dielectric structure out of sapphire. Thermal aspects of the cavity were analyzed using finite element method (FEM) and an experiment designed to test different thermal joint materials. FEM was used to check the contraction of the cavity during cooling, the contact quality between the dielectric material and cavity wall, the heat flow rate through the assembly, and helps visualize the cavity’s reaction to different design changes. A simple comparison between thermal conductivity curves justified the usage of sapphire over alumina from a thermal property point of view. Thus, the method of experimentation had an additional dielectric material, sapphire, to test with and compare to alumina. The thermal test identified which material is best to use for a thermal joint but also simultaneously found the conductance of the joint and dielectric material as well as an estimate for what the temperature is inside the larger scale cavity since a thermometer cannot be placed inside the PBG when it cools. Initially, the cavity simulation was tested for structural deformation properties and stress distribution since it is made of copper which contracts heavily in comparison to most other materials. The reduction in volume of the cavity was less than anticipated which gave more room for a possible usage of a modified thermal joint for additional contact area and higher conductivity.


114 pages




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