Our newest member of the lab is Mike Nielson, who will be doing his senior thesis project working on ice. Specifically he will be troubleshooting and calibrating the cryostat and testing standard ice samples for grain growth or degradation after thermal pulses. On his first day he already made a big contribution to the ice project. Rather than the duct taped styrofoam contraption that I was envisioning for insulation, he suggested we use expanding foam to get a perfect fit to the cryostat dimensions.
At home he built a wooden box lined with wax paper. We placed the cryostat inside the box and released two full cans of Great Stuff expanding foam in the area around it. A wooden bar over the top covered the ball bearing sleeve that the piston goes into. The bar also held down the cryostat when the foam expanded.
And did it ever expand! He taped the sides so that the foam would "grow" toward the center. We actually worried that it wouldn't fully cover the top of the cryostat. Clearly we didn't have to worry. It covered completely and pushed its way out. After it fully dried, he easily removed it from the box, cut the top off, and cut the insulation into two halves. Eventually we will use duct tape or velcro to make a seam that will hold the two parts together.
He cut a hole in the side to allow for the peltier cooling device and heat sink that I will discuss in more detail later. Shown here is a fan sink. In the next blog installment I will show the circulating liquid sink that we are now using instead. Stay tuned!