Princeton University Takes ABTech Air-Bearing to the South Pole

Researchers at Princeton University needed a large diameter ultra-precision rotational axis with a motor drive, so they contacted ABTech to provide a solution.

What made this request unusual?

  • First, they needed to install their entire research project on TOP of the rotary table.
  • Second, their tests had to be run continuously over a period of several weeks.
  • Third, their sensitivity level was so high that the system had to be installed at the South Pole to eliminate the effects of the earth’s rotation!

AT400DD with Controller

ABTech supplied an AT400 series air-bearing rotary table capable of holding 2,000 lbs with certified rotational accuracies of better than 5µ” (millionths of an inch). An integrated direct drive was added along with a single axis programmable controller to move this mass in a repetitive oscillation pattern for several weeks at a time.

The research project was installed at the Amundsen-Scott South Pole Station early in 2013. This marked the first time an ABTech product had been “exported” to Antarctica, making it the 7th continent where our products are being used!

As Marc Smiciklas, the postdoctoral research associate at Princeton reported: “I just got back from the South Pole last week. Everything there went well. The experiment is now up and running, and the air table is working flawlessly!”

For the truly technical, here is an excerpt of the article published online by The Antarctic Sun:

SPLIT Experiment Installation

South Pole research associate Andrew Vernaza,twi left, and scientist Maffrey Donenfeld

New experiments installed at the South Pole in January
By Jeffrey Donenfeld, South Pole correspondent
Posted February 8, 2013

The installation of the South Pole Lorentz Invariance Test (SPLIT) is being overseen by Princeton University  post-doc Marc Smiciklas for principal investigator Michael Romalis.

A violation in this symmetry would suggest that there’s a new element to physics which falls outside of what the current standard model can predict.

The SPLIT apparatus arrived in January. One of the main tasks involved alignment of the sensitive laser optics. Smiciklas will work with research associate Andrew Vernaza on developing comprehensive maintenance, testing and operating procedures for the winter.

The full article can be read at: Antarctic Sun South Pole Lorentz Invariance Test (SPLIT) Project.