My Lab

Category archives for My Lab

I announced my intention to do some research blogging a little while ago, and managed one pair of posts before the arrival of SteelyKid kind of distracted me. I’m still planning to complete the Metastable Xenon Project blog, though (despite the utter lack of response to the first two), and the second real paper I…

Here’s a picture of the gas-handling line leading to the discharge region seen in the plasma post: How many valves can you count in that picture? If you said “seven,” give yourself a pat on the back. Here’s the same picture with the valves numbered for your convenience:

Lab Porn: Plasma!

A couple more pretty pictures of the apparatus, to pass the time: This is the plasma discharge source that we use to make metastable atoms. We excite the gas using a RF coil (under the tinfoil) with a couple of watts of power at 145 MHz (local ham radio people must love me…), which creates…

Lab Porn: Doomsday!

Behold, the end of the world is at hand! They said I was mad– mad!– but now they’ll pay… Well, ok, it’s not actually a doomsday weapon. It’s a shot of the main experiment chamber in my lab, taken in very low light in an attempt to capture the orange glow of the ion gauge…

In the previous post on this topic, I discussed the various types of noisy vacuum pumps, both clean and dirty varieties. This time out, we’ll deal with the quiet pumps, the ones that don’t deafen people working in the lab. Quiet and Dirty: The quintessential quiet and dirty pump is an oil diffusion pump. These…

A great many physics experiments need to be conducted at low pressures, in order to avoid sample contamination, thermal effects, or dissipative forces produced by interaction with air. Some experiments don’t require all that much in terms of vacuum, while others require pressures so low that they’re limited by the diffusion of gasses through stainless…

Experimental Physics for Morons, #47

I spent the bulk of yesterday afternoon doing vacuum system work, specifically working on the system to feed gas into the atomic beam source. My feelings about this can be inferred from the Facebook status message I set at the time: “Chad Orzel abhors a vacuum.” The apparatus I’m building uses laser cooling to decelerate…

Waiting for the Jack of Hearts

They’re renovating a lab down the hall from mine (this is what led to the power shutdown that temporarily disabled my wavemeter). Today’s agenda apparently involves a lot of drilling. Or, possibly, a bank robbery. Whatever’s going on, the intermittent violent shaking of the floor is not so conducive to research with laser diodes. When…

Hey to Bristol Instruments

Last week, I made an oblique mention of an equipment failure, and commented about the positive experience I had in dealing with their engineers on the phone. I carefully avoided naming the broken product or the company I was dealing with, out of some obscure sense of blogging ethics. I shipped the broken item off…

What I Love About Engineers

Having made a snide comment or two about engineers earlier, I feel like I should relate a positive experience today: Over the Christmas break, there was a power outage in my lab. Not an accidental outage, but a planned outage that nobody told me about– a contractor cut the breakers in order to do some…