Nanotechnology Now







Heifer International

Wikipedia Affiliate Button


DHgate

Home > Press > Machinists Build Precision Scientific Instruments

Photo by Dan Dry.

Ernie Mendoza at work in the University of Chicago machine shop.
Photo by Dan Dry.
Ernie Mendoza at work in the University of Chicago machine shop.

Abstract:
Some instruments or components built in the University of Chicago machine shop now sit on the surface of the moon and Mars, while others fly through deep space on Voyager 1 and 2, far beyond the orbit of Pluto, and other spacecraft. They also occupy the inhospitable environment of Antarctica.

Machinists Build Precision Scientific Instruments

Chicago, IL | Posted on January 7th, 2008

A distinguished European scientist appeared unannounced at the University in the early 1950s, when Roger Hildebrand was a young Assistant Professor in Physics.

"He said there was someone he wanted to meet," said Hildebrand, the Samuel K. Allison Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus in Physics. So Hildebrand asked if he wanted to meet Enrico Fermi, the Nobel Prize-winning physicist and a member of the Chicago faculty.

"He said, ‘Well, no. What I had in mind was meeting Tom O'Donnell.'"

As then-manager of the University's central machine shop, O'Donnell had worked closely with the late Albert Michelson, the University's first Nobel Prize-winning scientist. "Michelson made his mark by extremely precise measurements of various things like the speed of light. Tom O'Donnell was the guy who built that instrumentation," Hildebrand said.

Today, the Central Shop's machinists continue to build precision instruments for University scientists. Although housed in the Physical Sciences Division, the shop's services are available to scientists and physicians campus-wide.

Some instruments or components built in the shop now sit on the surface of the moon and Mars, while others fly through deep space on Voyager 1 and 2, far beyond the orbit of Pluto, and other spacecraft. They also occupy the inhospitable environment of Antarctica. The South Pole Telescope detects the afterglow of the big bang, as did its predecessor, the Degree Angular Scale Interferometer, with hardware provided by the Central Shop.

"The shop is an extraordinary resource for the University," said Steven Sibener, the Carl William Eisendrath Professor in Chemistry. "They make anything from large telescopes to probes for nanoscience. They're especially good when you need very precise components of large instruments," Sibener said.
In the area of chemical physics, the shop built sophisticated molecular beam machines for Yuan

Lee, a 1986 Nobel laureate in chemistry, when he was a member of the Chicago faculty from 1968 to 1974. The instruments enabled Lee to closely study the dynamics of chemical reactions.

And the University of Toronto's John Polanyi, who shared the Nobel Prize with Lee and Harvard University's Dudley Herschbach, also had a large instrument built here because of the shop's capabilities. "There is a whole generation of people in chemical physics from around the country who had very special instruments built here," Sibener said.

Sibener earned his Ph.D. at the University of California, Berkeley, under Lee's direction. Now, virtually every major piece of equipment in all of Sibener's five laboratories is a product of the Central Shop. His neutral-atom scattering apparatus, for example, allows his team to examine the structure of materials on an atomic scale.

"It was built in its entirety in this shop starting about 20 years ago, and it's been evolving with every generation of students since," Sibener said. Its precise components required alignments as fine as fractions of a thousandth of an inch over a meter distance.

"That is something one could not even contemplate buying commercially. It's a one-of-a-kind instrument, and it works gorgeously," he said.

The path between a concept and a new instrument is often a long one, said Stuart Rice, the Frank P. Hixson Distinguished Service Professor Emeritus in Chemistry. Rice noted, "This is not just a shop in which you hand them a set of drawings and say, ‘Make it that way.'" Instead, Rice has found that the Central Shop's machinists have ideas that influence the development and design of his instruments.

"In fact, one of the things that I had built we actually published with the machinist on the experiment," Rice said. Four instrument makers staff the shop, including Foreman David Plitt, Ernie Mendoza, Robert Metz and Gordon Ward, along with crane operator Larry Fiscelli.

"The men always have something new to work on," Plitt said. "They come in every day, start a new job, and they know that's going to be a new adventure for them."

Decades ago, the University's instrument makers numbered in the scores. Plitt laments that skilled machinists are much harder to find these days. "I talked to our union rep. I was telling him, ‘There's no one out there we can hire.' He says, "There are no more apprenticeships.'"

Existing training programs do little more than teach the basics, Plitt said, and they fall short of the skills and artistry needed to work in his shop. "Aesthetics is very much a part of it," Rice said. "A really precise machine is a beautiful thing."

####

For more information, please click here

Contacts:
Steve Koppes
773-702-8366

Copyright © Newswise

If you have a comment, please Contact us.

Issuers of news releases, not 7th Wave, Inc. or Nanotechnology Now, are solely responsible for the accuracy of the content.

Bookmark:
Delicious Digg Newsvine Google Yahoo Reddit Magnoliacom Furl Facebook

Related News Press

News and information

Scientific breakthrough in rechargeable batteries: Researchers from Singapore and Québec Team Up to Develop Next-Generation Materials to Power Electronic Devices and Electric Vehicles February 28th, 2015

First detailed microscopy evidence of bacteria at the lower size limit of life: Berkeley Lab research provides comprehensive description of ultra-small bacteria February 28th, 2015

Leti to Offer Updates on Silicon Photonics Successes at OFC in LA February 27th, 2015

Moving molecule writes letters: Caging of molecules allows investigation of equilibrium thermodynamics February 27th, 2015

Academic/Education

NanoTecNexus Launches New App for Learning About Nanotechnology—STEM Education Project Spearheaded by Interns February 26th, 2015

SUNY Poly CNSE Researchers and Corporate Partners to Present Forty Papers at Globally Recognized Lithography Conference: SUNY Poly CNSE Research Group Awarded Both ‘Best Research Paper’ and ‘Best Research Poster’ at SPIE Advanced Lithography 2015 forum February 25th, 2015

KIT Increases Commitment in Asia: DAAD Funds Two New Projects: Strategic Partnerships with Chinese Universities and Communi-cation Technologies Network February 22nd, 2015

Minus K Technology Announces Its 2015 Vibration Isolator Educational Giveaway to U.S. Colleges and Universities February 18th, 2015

Announcements

Scientific breakthrough in rechargeable batteries: Researchers from Singapore and Québec Team Up to Develop Next-Generation Materials to Power Electronic Devices and Electric Vehicles February 28th, 2015

First detailed microscopy evidence of bacteria at the lower size limit of life: Berkeley Lab research provides comprehensive description of ultra-small bacteria February 28th, 2015

Leti to Offer Updates on Silicon Photonics Successes at OFC in LA February 27th, 2015

Moving molecule writes letters: Caging of molecules allows investigation of equilibrium thermodynamics February 27th, 2015

Tools

Hiden CATLAB Microreactor System at ARABLAB 2015 | Visit us on Booth 1011 February 26th, 2015

Renishaw and Bruker team up for a workshop on TERS and co-localised AFM Raman February 26th, 2015

Maximum Precision in 3D Printing: New complete solution makes additive manufacturing standard for microfabrication February 26th, 2015

Real-time observation of bond formation by using femtosecond X-ray liquidography February 26th, 2015

Aerospace/Space

National Space Society and Space Frontier Foundation announce the formation of the Alliance for Space Development February 25th, 2015

Rosetta Team Wins the National Space Society's Science and Engineering Space Pioneer Award February 23rd, 2015

A new spin on spintronics: Michigan team tests radiation-resistant spintronic material, possibly enabling electronic devices that will work in harsh environments February 17th, 2015

Mars Science Laboratory (Curiosity) Rover and Science Team Wins the National Space Society's von Braun Award February 13th, 2015

NanoNews-Digest
The latest news from around the world, FREE




  Premium Products
NanoNews-Custom
Only the news you want to read!
 Learn More
NanoTech-Transfer
University Technology Transfer & Patents
 Learn More
NanoStrategies
Full-service, expert consulting
 Learn More










ASP
Nanotechnology Now Featured Books




NNN

The Hunger Project







© Copyright 1999-2015 7th Wave, Inc. All Rights Reserved PRIVACY POLICY :: CONTACT US :: STATS :: SITE MAP :: ADVERTISE