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Vacuum is at the heart of research and development.

From pioneering fields such as high energy physics and space simulation, to more grass roots applications, where vacuum pumps are critical for experimentation in university and private laboratories.

At Edwards, we create vacuum technology to meet these exact demands, through off-the-shelf or bespoke solutions; from initial advice on modelling and specifications through to implementation and support, we deliver safe, stable vacuum environments that keep up with the complex and evolving demands on both analysis and discovery.

We offer a complete range of vacuum pumps and gauges from atmosphere to ultra-high vacuum (UHV) and beyond in extreme-high vacuum (XHV):

Vacuum systems for high-energy physics

Vacuum systems for synchrotrons, cyclotrons and linacs


High-energy physics (HEP) research, also known as particle physics, is a branch of physics that studies the fundamental particles and the interactions between them at extremely high energies. HEP research typically involves the use of particle accelerators. These large facilities provide scientific instruments which accelerate particles to very high speeds and then collide them with other particles or targets. By analysing the particles that are produced in these collisions, researchers can learn about the properties and behaviour of the fundamental particles and their interactions. Other HEP examples include synchrotrons which produce high intensity and coherent photons used for example in the determination of complex molecular structures such as proteins.

As well as high-energy physics research leading to many important scientific discoveries over the years, it has also contributed to the development of technologies such as medical imaging and cancer treatment.

In HEP, vacuum levels of UHV or below are used to remove residual gas molecules from the path of the particles being accelerated. Otherwise these cause the particles to lose energy and change direction through gas molecule-particle scattering; UHV is therefore required to maintain a stable and controlled particle beam.

View of the synchrotron

Vacuum systems for high powered laser beams

High power laser beams are being increasingly used to investigate a wide range of domains, from new fields in fundamental physics to applications in medical science, solar materials study and nuclear material management.

These laser beams must travel through multiple amplifiers to produce powerful pulses in the shortest time intervals (10-18 seconds or lower). The large vacuum systems required to operate these high-intensity laser beams are highly complex in their design; vacuum stability is of prime importance.

At Edwards, we have specialised in vacuum modelling capabilities with our unique tools, techniques and vast experience. This allows us to select the correct pipe-work and pump configurations, to ensure the installation achieves the vacuum requirements of our customers’ experiments.

Movement of micro particles by beams of laser in dark laboratory

Vacuum systems for gravitational wave detection

Gravitational waves are ripples in the curvature of space-time which propagate as a wave, travelling outwards from a source such as a binary star system. Detecting these waves helps to confirm the explanation of gravity as predicted by Einstein’s theory of relativity. These waves are detected using complex interferometers on the ground and potentially in space.

It is essential that the observatories housing the interferometers are perfectly clean and extremely stable as they are highly sensitive to the smallest of vibrations.

The whole interferometer must therefore remain as optically perfect as possible. Any residual gas would affect the measurement, so the light beam must operate at ultra-high vacuum conditions.

Gravitational Waves

We have been supplying interferometers around the world with ultra-high vacuum pumps. The Virgo detector in Italy relies on XDS dry scroll pumps for its experimental set-ups, including pre-evacuation and baking out of large chambers. Virgo has two 3 km long tubes, each 1.2 m in diameter, which are the largest ultra-high vacuum Gravitational wave vessels in Europe, and the second largest in the world.

The Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory (LIGO) is a large-scale physics experiment and has observatories located at 2 sites which are 3,000 km apart: Hanford S, Washington and Livingston, Louisiana, US. They were the first to detect cosmic gravitational waves and to develop gravitational-wave observations as an astronomical tool. We have been partnering with LIGO for over 20 years, supplying oil-free dry pumps and STP magnetically levitated turbomolecular pumps.

Vacuum systems for nuclear fusion research

Nuclear fusion is the process of combining nuclei to produce a higher atomic mass element. When atomic nuclei combine, they release a large amount of energy, which can be a source of power.

Research in this field involves magnetic confinement fusion based attempts to recreate a reaction similar to that occurring in the sun by fusing two isotopes of hydrogen; deuterium and tritium, to create helium and energetic neutrons. In magnetic confinement fusion reactors the gas molecules have to be heated to very high temperatures, up to 100 million degrees Celsius to create a controlled plasma.

Beautiful artistic 3d illustration of thermonuclear torus fusion reactor chamber.

Nuclear fusion research, to a large extent, involves understanding the behaviour of plasma.

One of the major challenges faced by fusion scientists and engineers is the ability to sustain plasma by maintaining the right vacuum pressure.
Hence the need for large-scale, effective vacuum systems that ensure a ultra-high vacuum platform in the large reactor vessels and also in the cryogenic system surrounding the superconducting magnetic field coils which create high magnetic fields to confine the plasma. Very high temperatures, ionising radiation and high magnetic fields are significant challenges for the vacuum pumps and instrumentation and other hardware.

To meet these ever-evolving demands, we, at Edwards, have designed and developed a special bespoke pump, based on our nEXT turbomolecular pump technology which is capable of providing a significantly increased magnetic field resistance, along with the flexibility of end-user serviceability.

Inertial confinement fusion is another approach to creating controlled plasmas; Edwards is similarly involved in providing compatible vacuum technologies.

Vacuum pumps for laboratories and research facilities

From the smallest school laboratory, to international R&D projects, vacuum is facilitating educational development and scientific evolution across the globe. Whether you are looking for a single pump, or complete pumping solution, our experts are available to guide you through the selection process at every step.

Universities carry out a vast range of activities that require vacuum, these will vary depending on discipline and department.

 

scientist holding medical testing tubes or medical vials

Examples of typical vacuum used in university departments include:

Chemistry

to facilitate reactions in vacuum conditions, tasks like solvent evaporation, and distillation.

Physics and material science

for a wide range experimental set-ups;to study gases or plasma dynamics, to analyse the surfaces of samples in controlled UHV environments or for the development of quantum technologies.

Engineering

 for example for study in areas aerospace and tribology.

Biology

for applications like filtration, lyophilization (freeze-drying)and electron microscopy sample preparation.

Environmental science

to analyse air samples monitor pollution levels, or carbon capture research in controlled environments.

Astronomy

for the coating of telescope mirrors and manufacturing of crucial components.

Geology

for tasks like analysing stable isotopes and extracting fluids from geological samples.

Medical and biomedical science

in applications like freeze-drying pharmaceutical samples and advanced imaging techniques.

Nanotechnology

to create controlled environments for manufacturing and characterizing nanoscale materials and devices including the next generation of semiconductor technolgies.

Vacuum pumps for glove boxes

Vacuum pumps are used in gloveboxes to create and maintain a controlled atmosphere for handling air-sensitive materials, as well as keeping the experimenter safe. These enclosed workspaces prevent contamination which is vital for working on products such as semiconductors, nanomaterials, and biological samples. In scientific R&D, vacuum gloveboxes facilitate the synthesis of novel compounds, the assembly of intricate devices, and the exploration of cutting-edge processes that demand meticulously controlled vacuum conditions.

Looking ahead, the potential applications of vacuum gloveboxes are vast, ranging from advancing quantum computing components to enhancing clean energy technologies, underscoring their pivotal role in driving innovation across diverse fields of study.

Vacuum pumps for experimental coating

Vacuum pumps are commonly used in experimental coating processes to create and maintain a vacuum environment during the deposition of various types of coatings, such as thin films, coatings for solar cells, and protective coatings for electronic devices.

In general, the processes involve placing the substrate to be coated inside a vacuum chamber. The vacuum pump is then used to remove air and other gases from the chamber, creating a low-pressure environment. Once the chamber has been evacuated to the desired pressure, the coating material is introduced into the chamber in the form of a gas or vapor; the vacuum is crucial to maintain uniform and replicable conditions. The coating material adheres to the surface of the substrate and forms a thin film.

There are different types of vacuum pumps used in experimental coating processes, such as rotary vane pumps, diaphragm pumps, and turbomolecular pumps. Each type of pump has its own pros and cons, and the choice of pump depends very much upon the size of the vacuum coating vessel and the specific requirements of the coating process.

solar panels and wind turbines generating renewable energy with blue sky background

Vacuum equipment for corrosive environments

Even if you require vacuum equipment for corrosive applications, you can rely on us. Chemical laboratories are typically using vacuum to either remove substances by evaporation or to stop reactions from taking place.

Vacuum equipment with good corrosion resistance, vapour handling characteristics and ATEX classifications are provided.

Vacuum equipment for quantum computing

Quantum computing relies on the use of quantum bits, or qubits, which can exist in a superposition of multiple states simultaneously. These states are extremely fragile and can be easily disrupted by even small amounts of interference from their environment.

To protect against this interference and to achieve the superconducting states required to create qubits, quantum computers are typically operated at extremely low temperatures; approaching absolute zero.

Trapped ion quantum computers require the careful control of their environment to maintain their quantum states. This requires the use of XHV vacuum. Photonics based quantum computers additionally require bespoke cryogenics.

Vacuum is also crucial in the fabrication and assembly of devices for quantum sensors and communication hardware.

Vacuum equipment for space research

Since its advent in the 1960s, large scale space exploration is still extremely expensive and has to simulate the most hostile environments known to man.

Once in orbit repairing or replacing components is often impossible, and for these reasons it is vital that space projects vigorously test the technologies that will be used, from entire satellites, spacecrafts, down to each individual component.

Our vacuum technologies simulate space-like conditions on earth that enable a spectrum of testing to be carried out, such as radiation resistance, high temperature ranges and material compatibilities.

 
  • Primary and UHV pumps are used to replicate the vacuum in the layers of the Earth’s atmosphere to that of interstellar space; at pressures below 10-10 mbar.
  • Cryo vacuum and cooling systems simulate the extreme cold environments of -80°C or lower that space equipment will need to withstand.
  • Heating technologies within vacuum chambers allow for the simulation of extreme solar heat loads; up to +180°C. These conditions are essential for testing compatibility and durability during take-off/re-entry.
  • Additionally Edwards vacuum technologies are present in a wide range of simulations such as ion-thruster, vibration resistance and space-dust testing.
  • Our pumps are also crucial in providing clean, dust-free environments needed to construct space technologies.
Space satellite orbiting around Earth

As well as providing front-line technologies, such as vacuum pumps and cryogenic solutions, our focus is also to ensure the space market has access to all supporting products from leak detectors, gauging , components, and spare parts. We understand that critical testing can only be achieved if 100% of your vacuum solution is operational.

Vacuum Equipment for Research and Development Applications Brochure

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SERVICE SOLUTIONS

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