Sample synthesis is carried out using the facilities of the Superconductivity and Magnetism Group.
Polycrystalline samples are produced using the arc furnace which uses an arc of electricity to melt the sample. The constituent metals are melted together in an argon atmosphere at high temperatures. The picture shows (a) the furnace, with close-ups of (b) the electrode and (c) the reaction chamber.
Single crystals are grown using the optical floating zone technique. The crystal growth setup comprises a feed rod, a seed rod, four ellipsoidal mirrors, and a power source which may be either a halogen or xenon lamp. The growth process is initiated by melting the tips of these two rods. As the process continues, the melt cools down and crystallizes on the seed rod. The floating zone technique allows the growth of large-sized single crystals, and also of compounds whose melting point is very high (up to 2500°C). The picture shows a feed rod mounted inside a quartz tube at the centre of the optical floating zone furnace.