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Misc. Bubble charmers DIY

  1. Mar 1, 2013 #1
    Hello all,

    My son and I have been tinkering with (very low energy) particle experiments and observing them in a cloud chamber we built. Unfortunately these have a very limited amount of data that can be gathered from them. Now I know that there is no practical way of making the AWESOME detectors used at professional accelerators, i.e. LHC, etc. (though I wish I could :biggrin:) but is it even feasible to make a bubble chamber at home? I have scoured the web and can't find any useful info. If this would actually be an attainable goal (legal, safe, within a budget of a few hundred dollars, etc.) can anyone provide a link that would get me started on exactly HOW to build something like this, just on a small scale? My ultimate goal would be to create and detect positrons or other anti-matter, but I have learned that the energies needed to do that would create dangerous levels of radiation and probable get me in a lot of trouble with the Feds. Don't want to push our little experiments THAT far!!!

    Note: this is just a little project we are doing in our spare bedroom.

    Thanks in advance!
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 1, 2013 #2


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    I used the search terms "diy wilson cloud chamber" on Google and got loads of results. Have you already seen these and not found any suitable diy project?

    Cheers, Bobbywhy
  4. Mar 1, 2013 #3


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    He's already built a cloud chamber. Now he wants to move on to a bubble chamber. Unfortunately I've never seen a description of how to make a homemade one. I think it would be rather more difficult than a cloud chamber, because you need to be able to decrease the pressure quickly so as to decrease the boiling point of the liquid quickly from above the current temperature to below it and put the liquid in a superheated state. Then at just the right moment, send some particles through.
  5. Mar 1, 2013 #4

    Vanadium 50

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    How do you plan to pressure cycle cryogenic liquids safely? What experience do you have doing this?
  6. Mar 1, 2013 #5
    I'm not sure exactly what would be involved in order to pressure cycle the liquids, but in my line of work we deal with liquid nitrogen on a very regular basis, so I have the proper protective gear, containers, and regulating equipment to handle those types of substances safely.
  7. Mar 2, 2013 #6

    Vanadium 50

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    Then you shouldn't even be thinking about building one of these.

    They have exploded, and they have killed people.
  8. Mar 2, 2013 #7
    I wouldn't think using a piston it fluctuate the pressure of a chamber could be that diffic
  9. Mar 2, 2013 #8
    Sorry, bumped send in the iPad... I wouldn't think pressure fluctuations with a pneumatic piston would be than complex, but then again, I've never built a bubble chamber ;). Surprising stuff about the explosions. What kind of forces or reactions could cause cryogenic fluids to explode like that? Also, thank you for your input, I want to to the most power collisions/detections I can, but there's the obvious limitations of safety and legal restrictions that need to be considered. Do you know of any other detectors that are more advanced than a cloud chamber that could be reasonably built. I am fairly versed in mechanical engineering and handling dangerous substances ( liquid nitrogen, burning magnesium, certain types of radiation, very high pressure systems, etc.)

    Thanks again for everyone's input and advice!
  10. Jul 24, 2016 #9
    Sorry for the reply to the old thread nd to be a bit off topic. I have a group of teen Makers building an accelerator right now. I'd love to be able to observe something from it in a cloud chamber (we are building a nicer one as we get spotty results from the 'it's easy, just a cup, dry ice and alcohol..' versions). Physicsdad, can you post something about your set up? Maybe on a separate thread?

    I'm also wondering about targets and safety... When I worked in x-ray and we still had CRT tube tvs in some people's homes, we were warned not to rest the dosimeter on the top of the tv in the evening because of the x-ray output.
  11. Sep 19, 2016 #10
    Professional bubble chambers filled with explosive liquid hydrogen. Hydrogen is single proton nucleus, simple. We don't want to deal with liquid nitrogen with 14 nucleons, complicated. Each liter liquid H is approximately 18 sticks of dynamite, were it to mix with air and ignite.

    Since you're dealing with low energies, why not engineer solid state detectors?
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