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Description This section contains information about the progress of the Mechanical Oscillator project.

See top for progress navigation.

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Mechanical Oscillator Overview The Mechanical Oscillator team had many objectives to consider during design. We were asked to provide an oscillator and accelerometer setup that could be used in vacuum and at cryogenic temperatures (between 1 and 4 Kelvin). The oscillator needed to be able to output a force of about one hundred Newtons with an acceleration on the order of milliGs and a travel of up to a millimeter. It needed to operate at a frequency between 20 and 2000 Hertz. In addition, the whole arrangement was limited to about the size of a two inch cube.

When choosing parts, we were originally under the impression that our device would need to function at 50 milliKelvin. However, a phone conference with Dr. Scott Porter of GSFC clarified a miscommunication. Though at that time we knew that we were only required to operate at 4 Kelvin, we encountered many problems with possible piezoelectrics and ended up deciding on using a voice coil. We were able to borrow accelerometers and their respective amplifiers from NASA. We designed the mounting for the oscillator and accelerometer setup and machined it here at Olin. We also developed software to integrate the system along with a user-friendly Graphical User Interface.

More details on the project can be found in the Mechanical Oscillator User Manual.


Oscillator Setup

application The mechanical oscillator we developed will be used by the X-Ray Spectroscopy team at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center. The signals that the XRS team work with are detected in the form of very small amounts of heat, and thus the detectors must be kept in extreme cold (about 50 milliKelvin). The mechanical oscillator will allow the XRS team to determine whether in the future they will be able to use mechanical coolers for the detectors without interfering with their accuracy.

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