Oh, infrared heating furnace. You glow so good.
A lot of the materials we make here at Brookhaven are too small and too precise for traditional tools — good luck trying to hammer atoms into place or screw nanoscale films together. So sometimes we don’t build materials, we grow them.
Case in point: that glowing chamber above is used to grow superconducting crystals. The infrared image furnace focuses infrared light onto a rod, melting it at temperatures of about 4,000 degrees Fahrenheit. Under just the right conditions, that liquefied material recrystallizes as a single uniform structure. One of our physicists, Genda Gu, actually pioneered techniques that grow some of the largest single-crystal high-temperature superconductors in the world.
The clincher is that these sensitive crystals aren’t in a hurry to take shape. The materials grown by those gold-lined instruments typically take a month to form.