The Artisans Of The Lab

So I hadn’t actually planned to make research-related photos the very first that I post here with my new camera, but that just happens to be the way things turned out. Now, to be fair, these are not great photos–not by a long shot. However these shots are something I could never have even dreamed of catching with my previous camera. Therefore, I now present you with photos of those-hotwire-things-Nicole-keepstalking-about:

Boundary Layer Hotwire Probe

Above is a close-up of the prongs on our boundary layer probe, which is our most delicate and difficult to repair probe. The tips of the prongs form an X-shape (hence being an x-wire hotwire) on which two wires are set at approximately 90 degree angles to one another. It’s just barely possible to see a hint of the wire proper. You’re more likely to notice slightly larger copper-colored bits sticking out from the tips: this is (surprise!) copper plating over the tungsten wire that actually measures velocities for us. With the copper-plating, the wire is about 80 microns thick–the size of a human hair. The tungsten beneath that is 3 microns in diameter.

Here’s a shot that will give you a better indication of the overall size of this instrument:

Size comparison

Not too big. All of the repair work on these is done by hand, beneath a microscope with your average, run-of-the-mill soldering iron. This is why Stephanie and I tend to gush whenever we manage to repair one of these.

2 Responses to “The Artisans Of The Lab”


  • Wow. I saw the first picture and went, “How on earth did she manage to take that??!”

  • You would have been laughing your head off if you’d been there while I was taking that first picture. There’s nothing like using the optical digital zoom to 16x and attempting to hold the camera steady by hand from half-a-meter away. It says good things about that image stabilization algorithm, though, doesn’t it?

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