Build Your Own Instrument update: Making it cool

Some of you have asked about the current state of the Bonse-Hart USAXS instrument I have been building (reported here). Well, it has seen some progress here and there, though  there was no pressure to get it finished quickly as the X-ray generator was not working yet due to high-vacuum troubles.

Unfortunately, just when the offending x-ray generator components were replaced and the molybdenum rotating anode target was about to arrive, there was a bit of a snag… My advisor was fortunate enough to land a professorship at another place to focus on a very cool new development: compact neutron sources. Sadly, his imminent move meant that I would “lose” a very good colleague and advisor, and easy access to some of his good instruments which would follow him to his new position (though he did leave a large amount of really useful parts, almost enough to build a complete instrument!). The cooling system of the Bonse-Hart rotating anode generator had to go too, leaving me with a working rotating anode generator, but no way to cool it. His moving away got me a bit down but such is the way of science (“kenkyudo”, or 研究道): the path of you and your colleagues only runs parallel for a short time, so you better make the most out of it.

Anyway, ballpark figures for a cooling system come to about 20 kEuro which are slightly above my available budget. The one large budget proposal I had submitted came back negative (which I had pinned my hopes on), so that’s not going to be a solution. If I would have gotten it, I would have had the chance to buy a cooling system and maybe even one of these microfocus X-ray sources to see if the Bonse-Hart instrument would work on those relatively inexpensive radiation sources (which come to about 75-100 kEuro). Coolness aside, it would have been genuinely useful to find out if such sources are a viable option.

Not all is lost, though, and it will only take some time to find a suitable solution. In short the Bonse-Hart instrument is aligned with a laser now, and even has some shielding. It should now be ready, though it still lacks a detection system. Help is always welcome, though, so please feel free to drop me a line in the comments or find my e-mail address on the “About Me”-page. Until then, here is a picture of the instrument in its current state showing part of the outer radiation shielding in place:

Bonse-Hart today

Happy Scattering!

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