A ceramic ytterbium:yttrium aluminum garnet (Yb:YAG) thin-disk laser is investigated at 15°C (288 K) and also at 80 K, where it behaves as a four-level laser. We introduce a new two-phase spray cooling method to cool the Yb:YAG. One system relies on R134a refrigerant while the other uses liquid nitrogen (). The use of two systems allows the same disk to be tested at the two temperatures. When the Yb:YAG is cooled from room to cryogenic temperatures, the lasing threshold drops from 155 W to near 10 W, while the slope efficiency increases from 54% to a 63%. A 277 W laser with 520 W of pump is demonstrated. We also model the thermal and structural properties at these two temperatures and estimate the beam quality.