Home built: Less expensive...and better

The optics tables in Seth Aubin’s cold atoms lab contain a number of shutters—components that raise or lower a little brass flag to regulate the passage of the laser beams that drive the cooling system. You can buy shutters off the shelf, but they often don’t suit. They’re too big and/or too prone to vibration or have other problems. And they’re expensive.

Aubin and his collaborators began designing and building their own shutters. Their homebrew initiative was so successful that they wrote an article, published in a 2011 issue of Review of Scientific Instruments. Aubin, Ph.D. student Megan Ivory and an undergraduate, C. Davison ’15, are co-authors, along with some colleagues at the Autonomous University of San Luis Potosí, in Mexico.