High Vacuum Hack Chat

Embrace the suck

Wednesday, March 6, 2024 12:00 pm PST Local time zone:
Hack Chat
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Niklas from Advanced Tinkering will host the Hack Chat on Wednesday, March 6 at noon Pacific.

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To the casual observer, there's not much that goes on in experimental physics that doesn't require at least a partial vacuum. It makes sense when you think about it; our atmosphere is so thick and so loaded with water vapor and reactive oxygen that it just has to play havoc with experiments. Even when the goal is more applied than empirical, getting rid of all those pesky molecules is often the first step in getting good results.

But pulling a vacuum is rarely an easy task. Sure you can pump out some of the air, but that just makes the rest of the atmosphere try really hard to get back inside and ruin your day. It takes a lot of specialized equipment, a lot of precision-machined stainless steel fittings, and quite a bit of experience not only to pull a vacuum, but to then be able to work within it and do something useful.

One place where we've seen a lot of high-vacuum action is over on YouTube channel Advanced Tinkering. The channel has a wealth of interesting experiments, many of which need a good vacuum to get going. To that end, channel owner Niklas has assembled a nice collection of vacuum gear, and we asked him to drop by the Hack Chat to talk about what he's learned by embracing the suck.

  • Hack Chat Transcript

    Tom Nardi03/06/2024 at 21:18 0 comments

    Dan Maloney  3:00 PM
    OK welcome one and all to the Hack Chat! I'm Dan, I'll be moderating today along with Dusan as we welcome Niklas from Advanced Tinkering. We're going to be talking about nothing, or as close to it as we can get -- high vacuum
    AdvancedTinkering  3:01 PM
    Welcome everyone!
    Dan Maloney  3:01 PM
    Niklas, You've got an eclectic mix of topics on your channel. Why don't we start with a little about your background?
    AdvancedTinkering  3:03 PM
    Luckily I wrote a few sentences beforehand ^^
    AdvancedTinkering  3:03 PM
    Like many of you here, I've been tinkering with various projects since childhood. Initially, I was more focused on dismantling things. The part where I put them back together or build something of my own came later. About two years ago, I decided to document one of my projects and upload it to YouTube. Since my projects don't aim to have scientific value and my interests span across different fields, I named the channel Advanced Tinkering. I've worked on a few projects related to chemistry, electronics, and lately, a lot on vacuum and high vacuum. The various types of vacuum pumps (oil or mercury diffusion pumps, turbomolecular pumps, titanium sublimation pumps, rotary vane pumps, membrane pumps, etc.) and the physics behind them are fascinating. In my vacuum chamber, I've already evaporated various metals like aluminum, titanium, silver, copper, and chromium to coat surfaces like glass or plastic. First and foremost, I want to emphasize that I am by no means an expert. My expertise lies more in chemistry, and I don't have formal training in many of the areas I cover in my videos. But I believe the appeal lies precisely in acquiring new skills and knowledge. Thanks to the internet, there's a unique opportunity to connect with experts and enthusiasts from various fields and learn from each other. And I hope today will be a day where we can learn from each other!
    Dan Maloney  3:05 PM
    "Titanium sublimation" - that's one I've never heard of
    Allen  3:06 PM
    like an ion pump?
    AdvancedTinkering  3:08 PM
    How this type of pump works could actually be observed when I evaporated titanium in the chamber to coat a glass pane. The titanium becomes gaseous and then deposits as a thin film on the next surface. Since titanium (without an oxide layer) is highly reactive, it reacts with the remaining gas molecules in the vacuum, binds them, and thus reduces the pressure.
    AdvancedTinkering  3:09 PM
    This is a pump principle that can only be used at very low pressures.
    AdvancedTinkering  3:09 PM
    Just like a Diffusion Pump can only be used at lower pressures ^^
    Thomas Shaddack  3:10 PM
    Random thought I am entertaining for some time. Could a homemade vacuum tube have integrated ion/titanium pump? Suck it out with something conventional/common/available, seal, then put it into magnetic field and run high voltage through the dedicated electrodes and finish the suck? Could also be used to "top up" the vacuum later after the inevitable outgassing and microleaks do their job.
    Thomas Shaddack  3:10 PM
    Variation on a getter.
    Dan Maloney  3:11 PM
    Interesting. Do methods like that perform better at scavenging oxygen or nitrogen? Seems like both, since there TiN and TiO2. But maybe it performs better for oxygen since each Ti ion takes out two oxygens?
    dmoisan  3:12 PM
    The GE Talaria projection tube had a built-in ion gauge and some absorbent rocks in the tube to get the leftover gas from the oil film that it needed to diffract the electron beam and form an image. The most fascinating display tech ever invented.
    AdvancedTinkering  3:13 PM
    @Thomas Shaddack I'm not sure. There may be getter materials, that contain titanium.
    Allen  3:13 PM
    What types of seals are you using? I was always told 10^-6 torr is...
    Read more »

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Keri Szafir wrote 02/29/2024 at 12:22 point

Sounds like a fun hangout! I'm interested in vacuum tube technology and will certainly drop in.

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Dusan Petrovic wrote 03/06/2024 at 15:04 point

See you there!

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