UWA Microscope Installation

Project Description

The University of Western Australia was the recipient of a $5m grant to purchase the CAMECA 1280 ion probe microscope as part of a nation-wide multi-university research initiative.

Room preparation and logistics organisation for the installation of the French manufactured CAMECA 1280 Ion Probe Electron Microscope.

Our Role

NS Projects managed the preparation of the microscopes new home within the UWA Physics building to meet the exact environmental conditions needed for its operation. This included installation of air cooling and humidity controls, vibration management and installation of electromagnetic radiation control measures.

A team of specialist engineers was assembled, to design the changes required to the room to allow the microscope to operate in accordance with manufactures specifications.

Challenges Overcome

  • Creating the exact local environment required for the microscope. The location needed to comply with specific electromagnetic radiation levels, a narrow temperature variation range and minimal ground platform vibration specification.  Compliance was essential if the manufacturer was to warrant and commission the instrument.
  • Defining the particularly challenging vibration specifications for the instrument  installed on a suspended slab.
  • Transporting the seven-tonne instrument from the point of manufacture in France. A 20-tonne crane was engaged to lift the instrument to a second level balcony. From there, components of the instrument, each weighing up to three tonnes, were wheeled across a suspended concrete floor which required propping to deal with the weight.
  • Planning and room preparation required assembling a competent specialised building and design team, together with the adoption of a problem solving approach.

Project Details

  • Name: UWA Microscope Installation
  • Type: Education
  • Client: University of Western Australia
  • Date: 2009
  • Role: Scope of Works
  • Value: $400,000

Key Outcomes

  • To achieve the narrow temperature range required for the microscope's operation, when designing an isolated air conditioning system, the mechanical engineers had to also consider the heat load of the instrument. This system was to be placed on an uninterruptible power supply (UPS) to ensure its reliability. Customised baffling was installed to ensure a consistent air supply.
  • To achieve the low-levels of electromagnetic radiation the instrument required for operation, all sources of electromagnetic radiation had to be identified and managed. Electrical engineers conducted testing which resulted in electrical power boards, wiring, and ballast associated with fluorescent lighting being removed.
  • As the rooms are located on a suspended concrete slab, achieving the manufacturer-specified level of vibration proved a challenge. Vibration testing revealed levels beyond specification, which was overcome by isolating the instrument from the slab. Our consultant structural engineer designed an air bag suspended steel plinth which saw the vibration reduced to acceptable levels.
  • A logistics company specialising in sensitive equipment was engaged to move the instrument from its point of arrival in Adelaide to UWA. It was lifted into place and wheeled across a propped suspended computer floor ready for assembly by CAMECA technicians.
  • The project was successfully delivered, the instrument commissioned on budget and in time for scheduled tests.