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 […]

A User’s Guide to Vacuum Pumps Part 1: Noisy Pumps

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 […]

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 […]