Isolation Systems for Unique Instruments
The field of precision research has expanded exponentially over the past century. With that expansion has come a high degree of specialization among researchers. Scientists now can spend years probing one very specific question within a particular niche of their field. Due to this high degree of specificity, researchers will often need to design and build their own instruments which will allow them to answer the questions they seek to answer.
The range of unique, custom, and homemade instruments is incredibly diverse, spanning many fields of research and analytical techniques.
Creating new data storage capabilities requires a special set of tools. The fundamental research and development requires an array of heavily customized standard instruments (like AFMs, SEMs, and profilers). These are either niche market instruments specifically designed for data storage applications or special instrumentation designed in house by the end users themselves.
Testing and production of the data storage products requires another set of tools. These tools must be capable of testing the storage media, head gimbal assemblies (HGA), head stack assemblies, and other components. The Guzik spinstand is a great example of a tool that is native and indispensable to the data storage industry. There is also a long list of process equipment such as oil tanks and deposition equipment, which must operate at a high level of precision. Using vibration measurement equipment can help determine noise and vibration levels in a given location.
Optics is the study of light and its properties. There are many standard instruments which utilize optics to analyze materials, such as microscopes and interferometers. Performing primary optical research often requires designing and integrating one’s own optical configuration. These configurations are usually assembled on a grid of drilled holes and incorporate lasers, lenses, mirrors, and mounting systems. Many researchers will spend years optimizing their optical instrumentation to probe one very specific question.
An optical cavity, also known as a laser cavity or optical resonator, consists of an arrangement of mirrors in a configuration that creates a standing wave cavity resonator. Optical cavities are incorporated into larger systems, such as highly stable lasers and interferometers. Optical cavities are also used independently as highly specialized research instruments for probing questions of fundamental physics, time and frequency, and metrology. Maintaining the stability of the light waves inside the cavity requires isolation from acoustic noise, vibrations, and thermal fluctuation.
When researchers are investigating highly specific materials, such as industrial coatings or cellular structures, oftentimes there is not a commercially available instrument that provides the analytical capability necessary for their particular niche. In these cases, the researchers will have to dramatically modify existing instruments or build new instrumentation to get the data they need. These systems will often resemble hardness testers, tensile testers, probe stations, or thermogravimetric analyzers in their function. They will often be hybrids of several different techniques.
Many of these custom instruments are designed to operate at very high levels of precision, while at or near their maximum level of performance. These instruments often require high levels of stability. Since these instruments are not commercially developed, the scientist will focus on the analytical capabilities of the instrument and not spend time or resources maximizing the mechanical stability of the system. Thus, it is often necessary to provide a custom instrument to ensure the proper stability and isolation.
The process of isolating a unique instrument can be more complicated than a standard off-the-shelf instrument. Commercial instrument makers will usually characterize the noise sensitivities of their tools and provide list of recommended isolation systems for their customers. Researchers using non-commercial, customized instrumentation must independently select an appropriate isolation system.
For example, spinstands for HGA testing (data storage) frequently require vibration isolation systems that are built around the system’s geometry. Isolating these instruments can be a process of trial and error. It is therefore ideal to arrange an on-site demo of the proposed isolation system prior to purchase. Furthermore, because of the unique needs of custom instruments, it will often be necessary to design and build a custom isolation system which incorporates isolation from a variety of noise sources – acoustic, vibration, EMI, and thermal fluctuation. Custom systems can be designed to accommodate the unique size and form factor of the instrumentation.
Herzan has many years of experience specifying and installing specialized isolation systems worldwide. To request more information or a quotation for this or other Herzan products, contact IL Photonics.