Liquid nitrogen (finally) makes an Arduino project cool

At $1.5 a liter in Moscow, [Michail] couldn’t resist buying some liquid nitrogen for himself. He thought that because Arduinos were quite popular among geeks, he’d try to overclock one while bringing its temperature down to -196°C/-320°F.

To check the ATmega was still working correctly, [Michail] designed several stability tests: SRAM read/write, flash read, arithmetic math and program flow tests (code with some conditionals). He used a standard HD44780 LCD to view the tests results but also an LED, blinking the number of the test it would have failed. The Arduino was externally clocked by a TTL-logic based square signal generator he designed, which can produce a clock between 16 and 100MHz. It turns out that you can run an Arduino at 65.3MHz when it is cooled with liquid nitrogen!

[Michail]‘s article also explains what happens to the different on-board components when cooled with LN2: electrolytic capacitors becomes virtually non-existent, X7R capacitors’ impedance drop by 2/3, silicon diodes voltage drop increase by 50% and LED’s colors change. Check out the video below:

Comments

  1. polytechnick says:

    Dude has some guts! “Little liquid nitrogen in your backpack never hurt anyone” . Then, on the video, he’s practically dipping his fingers into the vat …

    Why is LED color changing under low temp?

  2. snow says:

    LN2 is actually pretty harmless despite what most the people say. your body is so hot compared to the nitrogen that it will just vaporize on contact so unless you really put you hand in there for a few minutes noting bad is ever gonna happen.

  3. barsmonster says:

    “X7R capacitors’ impedance drop by 2/3″ should read as “X7R capacitors’ capacitance drop by 2/3″

  4. Hack Man says:

    [R]un an Arduino at 65.3MHz!

    A DUE has a stock CPU Clock of 84Mhz

  5. This is …Cool

    (Sorry, had to make the pun)

  6. BiOzZ says:

    im blown away that it still works down at those temperatures!

    • Hack Man says:

      Why would you believe it would not?

      • Solenoid says:

        There’s a thing called the freeze-out zone in semiconductors, electronics just don’t have enough entropy to function correctly anymore. You’d think lowering the temperature to extremely low temperatures enables you to overclock to infinity, but unfortunately other parameter come into play.

        Here’s a website that explains it well: http://www.extremetemperatureelectronics.com

      • BiOzZ says:

        exactly as [solenoid] says … not to mention the possibility of cracks in chips and on the silicon from shrinking and some active components slow down and change there tolerances … also i believe internal resistors lower their value and you can risk blowing things
        and i can guarantee you the internal voltage reference is skewed dramatically

        but the fact that this chip lived that low is amazing to me seeing how it was never designed to put up with temperatures below 0! (i think)

        • Leo says:

          Actually, the chip is specified for industrial temperature range (-40 to 85 degrees Celsius). Military chips are specified for range of -55 to 125 degrees. Only commercial ICs are specified for 0 to 70 degrees, but most of the time they’ll work below that temperature.

  7. Midnight says:

    Extremely cool experiment, tnx for doing this. Always good to get stuff benchmarked. I’d at least wear some goggles cause if a cap blows you might end up with some eye damage there.

    For the rest… now someone has to go and test it under heat. I guess it’s done when the solder starts to melt.

  8. henry says:

    yes, because it’s the same silicon from the mil to the commercial version

  9. henry says:

    I don’t think that you need to cool it with ln2 to push it to 67mhz..

  10. Miroslav says:

    In 21st century Russia, Arduinos run faster!

  11. Luis says:

    was the ATMEGA328 completily covered witn LiN

  12. Takfly says:

    What I enjoy the most about this video is how excited he gets when he sees results!! so much so that he does that thing where he can’t connect the crocodile clips quick enough!! awesome!!

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