Residual Gas Analyzer

31 03 2009

Just won this MKS Spectra Satellite RGA Residual Gas Analyzer w/Head. $800.

I got in touch with an MKS Technical Support Eng, and he is emailing the software to me.

Cleaning a Vacuum Chamber

29 03 2009

Found some information on cleaning vacuum chambers in this presentation on ultra high vacuum.

Some methods:

  • Bead Blasting    
  • Ultrasonic
  • Glow Discharge (top right)
  • Electropolishing
  • Reactive Gas Clean
  • Chemical (Acid and Alkaline)
  • Rough Abrasives

Cleaning method for 300 series stainless (Brookhaven National Laboratory)

  1. Degrease with ultrasonic agitation
  2. Hot alkaline pH 11
  3. wash with air agitation
  4. Rinse cold tap water
  5. Rinse DI water with air agitation
  6. Dry in hot air oven
  7. Vacuum bake at 950 C for 2h
  8. Glow discharge clean
  9. Reactive gas clean

Stop the Press

28 03 2009

Never Assume. 

So today I actually removed the top hexagonal part of the chamber from the bottom cylenrical part, and guess what I found.

The gasket on the lid is a different diameter than the gasket on the bottom cylender. Which means…

We can place the lid on the cylinder and it might just work.


Also 100th post!

Pump System

28 03 2009

Just won this Pfeiffer Balzer Turbo Molecular Pump TSU 065D PMS03407

On it’s side

28 03 2009

Stuart suggested turning the chamber on it’s side:


This would require a custom stand, but that’s easier to do than custom vacuum equipment. This also would require an adapter from the turbo pumps flange to the 10″ conflat (likely ~$500)

Also, not sure if the two 27″ OD ASA(rubber) flanges would work as well without the assistance of gravity. I image this setup would require a shipping strap when not under vacuum.

Also having a rounded bottom makes mounting things more difficult.

Turn the problem on it’s head

27 03 2009

What if we take the bottom cylinder of the vacuum chamber and flipped it upside down and used it like a bell-jar on top of a 316L stainless steel blank?

This would take the ASA (rubber) portal count from

7 X 14″, 2 X 27″


1 X 14″, 1 X 27″

This would require a custom fabricated blank, so while were are at it let’s add a flange for our turbo-molecular pump, in it’s ideal orientation:



I’m getting quotes on the custom 27″ blank.

Vacuum Gauge and Residual Gas Analyzer

26 03 2009

This chamber did come with a vacuum gauge, but it only goes down to 10E-3 torr, so it’s not suitable for our needs.

What we need is an Ionization gauge. I found one product that I really liked, the Intru Tech Hornet. It seems very easy to use: install conflat, plug in power, and get a reading. Coming in at under $1K, this gauge is in my budget. 

However, this is the scenario I imagine happening if I get this gauge: we get the pressure down to 10E-6 torr and that’s as low as it goes. At this point you need a Residual gas analyzer, to make any further diagnosis. If you see air, you have a real leak from the outside. If you see water you need a bake-out. If you see hydrocarbons, you have outgassing. I found the extorr,  which combines a Pirani, Ion Gauge, and RGA. It’s $3,450, and a stretch for my budget, but would be the only gauge you needed. It requires a windows box, and the software looks clunky.

Would an RSA also be useful for monitoring the pressure of the process gasses (deuterium/hydrogen/boron/helium)?

Grant Writing

26 03 2009

I’m starting to explore grants as a funding option.

My labmate Stuart has won several grants, so I asked him where I might start my search. Stuart says:


SBIR is probably the most accessible program. this site indexes the different agencies.

your stuff will have to fit into one of the topics of a solicitation though. this isnt the kind of thing you can do as an individual either. your company has to be registered with d&b and on the gov’t contractor database at

I’ve won 2 of these through nasa, both times i proposed with a team of 3 or 4 people who’ve done substantial prior work for nasa. a proposal usually takes 100-150 man hours to put together.

I’m sure there are other routes but sbir is definitely the most straightforward.


In the meantime, if you find this entertaining:

Click here to lend your support to: decawell and make a donation at !

New Arrivals

24 03 2009

30 Liter Dewar flask for liquid nitrogen for the superconducting coils, and the rough pump arrived.



Catalog of Portals

24 03 2009

List of all the portals on the chamber:


5 X 4.5″ OD Conflats. All covered with viewport covers (which are opaque from deposition)

4 X 2.75″ OD conflats. 2 with blanks, 2 exposed.



6 X 14″ OD ASA female gasket portals with threaded holes. 4 covered with blanks, 1 has a gate connected, and 1 is exposed.

24 X 2.75″ conflats. 6 covered with viewports, 16 with blanks, 1 with a dial, and 1 exposed.



12 X 2.75″ Conflat portals. 4 with blanks, 4 exposed, 3 with gas feedthoughs, and 1 feedthrough for vacuum guage (I think).

1 X 10″ OD Conflat with clearance bolts. Covered with blank.

1 X 16″ OD ASA portal with clearance bolts. Covered with blank.



2 X 14″ OD ASA male portal cover each with 2 X 4.125″ holes in it.

14″ OD ASA male portal cover with a 6.25″ hole in it with a female ASA gasket ring.

12″ OD ASA female portal cover.

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