Happy Birthday, Ion Pump!

This month marks the 60th anniversary of the sputter ion pump.

Back in 1957, Varian Associates was in the field of microwave electron tubes.  A major manufacturing hurdle was contaminants that shortened tube life.  Employee Robert Jepsen began experimenting with gas discharge “sputtering” and developed the ion pump.  This innovative pump created an ultra-high vacuum in tubes after processing, was portable and required no cooling water.

By 1959, Varian had launched a commercial business and was producing Vaclon pumps with speeds of thousands of liters per second.  Varian’s innovations in vacuum technology helped enable the high vacuum industry.

Varian was acquired by Agilent in 2010.  Today, we continue to provide a broad range of vacuum technologies and systems, including primary vacuum pumps (both wet and dry); turbo, ion and diffusion pumps; vacuum control and leak detection.  Applications include high-energy physics, medical particle accelerators and surface science experiments.

How good is our technology?  I blogged about how our ion pumps helped enabled scientists to detect gravitational waves for the first time in history.  A near-perfect vacuum was necessary to identify a signal change of one thousandth the diameter of one atomic nucleus.

This is also the 50th anniversary of the Varian/Agilent Vacuum Products Division site in Leini, Italy (outside of Torino).  VPD recently hosted a site wide celebration for Leini’s 250 employees and their families.

Happy birthday, everyone!

Vacuum 2b Vacuum 1

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