Friday, August 29, 2008

Toys from the lab

Yesterday I went to our factory in Folsom Ca, the former J&W gas chromatography columns site founded by a chemistry professor from Davis. A sympathetic colleague devoted some hours to teaching me about the instrumentation, and particularly, the consumables associated with it. 8 months into this job and I finally understand that part of it. GC columns are +/- 100 meters of angel-hair pasta-sized tubes of polyamide coated glass with a wee-beensy hole down the middle, wound on a circular cage. The inside is coated with various non-polar materials that attract volatile molecules. You put that in a hot oven, inject sample, and blow gas through it so the sample separates into various components. Now the point here is that the injector has to be sealed to the capillary, the detector has to be sealed to the other end, the gas has to be sealed so it has pressure and so forth. All of these seals for different purposes and for various vintages of instruments are of sundry sizes and colors. So last night, on the couch, I spread out my baggie and assorted jars of colored small seals, caps, and ferrules. We're talking show jewelry here!
Years ago I made a great quilted vest with my bioanalyzer printed upon it, using the disposable chips for buttons, and I always got attention when I wore it to trade shows. Hee!
I need to figure out how to make a jig to make perpendicular punctures so I can string them and they won't be crooked. The materials are soft - you need to poke syringe needles into them (the injection part) - but if I just use a beading needle they will lay every which way when strung. And they are light-weight enough that I can make some darling earrings. Fun! Stay tuned for the after photo.

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