The class 1000 clean dust laboratory is equipped with
• a Mach-Aire laminar flow cabinet
• a high-performance microscope (Nikon Eclipse LV150, purchased in 2010) with attached
• hydraulic micro-manipulation system (Narishige MMO-202ND/MMN-1) for the controlled transfer of micron-sized samples
• a custom-made sturdy glove box (designed and constructed by J. Cowpe) that can be evacuated by diaphragm vacuum pump (down to ~0.1 mbar) and filled with purified N2, enabling safe sample preparation in an inert atmosphere
Both microscope and micromanipulator can be operated within the N2-filled glove box.
The laboratory is frequently used by members of the IGC group but also other SEAES members and within external collaborations .
We examine, manipulate and document extremely valuable extraterrestrial samples that require handling in a dust-free environment. These samples include asteroid Itokawa regolith returned with JAXA’s Hayabusa mission , comet Wild 2 dust returned with the Stardust mission , the Genesis mission’s collector foils exposed to the solar wind, cometary interplanetary dust particles allocated by NASA, Antarctic micrometeorites, lunar Apollo samples and meteoritic slabs, minerals, sections, separates and insoluble organic matter.
Small grains down to a few µm can be transferred in a controlled way with tungsten needles sharpened in an electrolytic bath.
The microscope (reflected light only) is equipped with several long working distance objectives (2.5x-50x), bright- and dark-field illumination, manual x-y stage with glass plate mandatory for micro-manipulation., a high-resolution camera (Nikon DS-Fi1) and a computer system with Nikon “Element” software for documentation and size determinations. The trinocular eyepiece tube with 45:55/0:100 split facilitates simultaneous optical examination of samples through eyepiece and camera/computer.
The glove box consists of acrylic glass covered with antistatic coating, over pressure valve, feed throughs for power and camera signal, and can be equipped with an additional static eliminator.
The equipment in the dust clean room was continuously upgraded through the group’s STFC rolling grant (PI Lyon), an STFC Aurora fellowship (PI Busemann) and three “Faculty of EPS Strategic Funds” (PIs Clay and Busemann).
For further information, e.g. also about the opportunities for usage and potential sample restrictions, please contact H. Busemann, P. Clay or C. Davies via the group pages.