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.