Various Skills

In my experience, physical chemists tend to be multifaceted, and have various skills that are important behind the scenes in a lab. Here are a few of the skills I’ve picked up.

Laser Systems

  • Designed, built, and aligned beam lines for our experiments.
  • Understanding advanced laser optics including non-linear systems.
  • Maintaining and conducting repairs to several differnt laser systems including: Sacher ECDLs, M2 Ti:Sapphire, and Lambda Physik ArF excimer lasers.
  • Using and maintaining a Menlo FC1500 optical frequency comb with beat detection unit to lock a ECDL.


  • Used AutoCAD (nee Cadsoft) EAGLE to design circuits for both D/C, R.F. and high voltage applications.
  • Tested circuits with SPICE models.
  • Made circuits in breadboards, self-milled with a CNC milling machine, or sent out circuits to be professionally printed.
  • Put circuits together using through-hole and SMB components with advanced soldering techniques.
  • Worked with 1 and 3 phase A/C electronic equipment at 120 and 220 V.
  • Used best practices for grounding and shielding equipment safely.

Gas & Vacuum Systems

  • Maintaining and operating a turbomolecular pumps
  • Maintaining and operating our rotary pumps
  • Using a diffusion pump system
  • Designing vacuum lines using various types of standards including: ISO LF, KF, ASA, “Ultra-Torr”, and SwagLok.
  • Testing vacuum lines with long-term stability at micro-torr levels.
  • Doing all this safely using cryogenic traps and/or proper exhausting to fume hoods. Especially when dealing with toxic or otherwise hazardous gases.


  • Safely using liquid nitrogen for cooling. Either in pure state, or in a slurry for target temperatures.
  • Safely using our liquid helium compressor and cryo-pump to cool absorbance cells.
  • Using resistor based heaters and feedback systems to bring absorbance cells to a temperature setpoint.
  • Maintaining and setting up our liquid helium compressor.


  • Used AutoCAD Fusion 360 to design and model tools and equipment for lab operations
  • Built tools and equipment using various tools, such as:
    • CNC mills and lathes
    • Hand mills, lathes and drill presses
    • 3D Printers
    • Common hand tools
  • Maintained tools listed above.
  • Trained and supervised others in the workshop.


  • Ordered and Purchasing Equipment in a large organization.
  • Served as laboratory safety officer.
  • Served as laboratory emergency contact.
  • IT Support, and intra-lab networking.
  • Chemical storage and management.
  • Laboratory instructor and manager.
  • Helping undergraduates design lab experiments for educational purposes.
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