Reducing Vibration from Mechanical Equipment in an Electron Microscopy Lab


Discussion: Reducing Vibration from Mechanical Equipment in an Electron Microscopy Lab: Laboratories often have vibrating equipment that causes disturbances on electron microscope images.  These sources include chillers, vacuum pumps, transformers, etc..  At VEC, this is a problem that we commonly see in our clients' laboratories.  Following some basic guidelines can help reduce the impact of vibration on image quality.

Guidelines to Reduce Vibration from Mechanical Equipment:

  • Place all mechanical equipment in a mechanical core outside the microscope laboratory whenever possible. Providing separation between the vibration source and the microscope and often helps reduce the acoustic noise level.
  • Place all rotating motors, air chillers, transformers, and pumps on the proper damping material. The correct setup for pump installation consists of a plastic pan to catch and 5-10 Hz resonant frequency rubber isolators.  This solution is easy and relatively inexpensive. Isolators are available at suppliers such as Karman or McMaster-Carr.  These websites provide instructions on how to order the proper isolators based on the weight of the pump, the desired resonant frequency, and the number of isolators.  This methodology applies to chillers, transformers, and other rotating motors as well.
  • Use the proper damping material underneath mechanical equipment. It is tempting to place any available piece of Styrofoam underneath a vacuum pump hoping it will solve vibration issues. This is not the case. Instead, it is critical to install the proper damping material as outlined above to damp the vibration from mechanical equipment successfully. Using the incorrect damping material can amplify vibration and further degrade the resolution on the microscope image.
  • Ensure that all motors are correctly balanced, and the belts are adjusted appropriately. An out of balance motor or a loose belt can vibrate at an amplitude that degrades image resolution. Lab owners can frequency find these sources in the mezzanine above the lab space or a pump room adjacent to the laboratory.
Please contact us if you want to learn more about reducing vibration in your laboratory or have any questions about improving the image on your microscope.