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Vacuum Science


Module Code: VAC

Convenor: Gavin Bell


Direct link to MPAGS Moodle page. Non-Warwick students will need to get a temporary Warwick IT Services account - contact Gavin Bell to do this.


Module Details

Vacuum science underpins a lot of experimental physics. This module will provide training in basic vacuum techniques: vacuum system components, pumping, pressure measurement, and the underpinning theory. The course has two components: (1) online learning completed during the second half of term 1 and (2) a "hands-on" section taking 1.5 days based at Warwick. Non-Warwick students will be able to attend these days (either travelling or on a residential basis) and will be able to register for the module's Moodle page with their local email address.

Online work

Guided reading and video content with ongoing formative assessment. This will cover:

  • The thermodynamic view of vacuum
  • Pressure regimes (viscous / molecular flow, baked / unbaked systems)
  • Pressure measurement (Pirani gauge, ion gauge, cold cathode gauge, etc.)
  • Rough vacuum pumps (rotary, scroll, etc.)
  • High vacuum pumps (turbo, ion, getter, diffusion, cryo)
  • Vacuum system design
  • Standard vacuum fittings
  • Case study: Diamond Light Source
  • How to wreck your vacuum
Hands-on work

This will be based around a series of hands-on exercises to be done in small groups. The practical aspects will be emphasised and good vacuum practice discussed. For example:

  • Build and test a low vacuum system using KF components
  • Demonstrate the effects of pumping speed on equilibrium pressure
  • Build and test a high vacuum system using KF and CF components
  • Demonstrate the effects of outgassing and baking on ultimate pressure
  • Simulate some vacuum disasters (in a controlled way!)


Completion of online, reflective practice journal for hands-on work