It is a little tedious waiting for a full cryo cycle to iterate on the clamp. Also, in many cases we can learn a lot from just running at room temperature, but opening and closing the cryostat to get at the experiment takes a fair bit of effort. So, tonight I repurposed one of the gyro corner chambers to serve as a rapid-iteration room-temperature testbed. I used the northeast chamber since it had the pump connection. It has 2 KF flanges (on which I have put blanks) and 2 CF (one which goes to the gauges and valve, and the other which used to have a blank that I have replaced with a window).
I set it up next to the cryostat so that we only have to move 2 mirrors to switch between setups.
Given my revelation about the energy leakage and PEEK loss last night (see CRYO:1198), I resurrected the old rectangular block clamp to try a new idea. Namely, I just tried sandwiching the silicon cantilever (the central region with the hole, that is) between two sapphire washers, and then clamping the whole sandwich using the block clamp. The block clamp also has a PEEK base, but it should have provided a much stiffer clamp than the newer, cylindrical one, and that should result in less energy getting to the base. Here is what it looked like:
I pumped the chamber down and took a quick ringdown measurement. Unfortunately, the result was a Q in the ~2000 region, similar to what it was when we first installed the sapphire washers in the newer clamp and the bottom one was sitting on the clamp's lip (see CRYO:1191). Never fear---I have a new suspect: in looking at my photos, I'm noticing that the sapphire washers are not particularly flat. This could mean that the clamp contact is some strange shape and/or that the silicon is being stressed in some strange way.
Instead of the washers, I think I'm going to try sandwiching the cantilever between some other spare pieces of silicon that we have. If I use enough pieces to make a decently thick clamping region, this should serve the same purpose that we hoped the sapphire washers would. I'll try this tomorrow.
I sealed the cryostat vacuum line so I could use the pump for the new chamber. The LN2 reservoir was empty before I did so, and the clamp was registering around 250 K when I left. In any case, I'm going to keep iterating with the new chamber, and I think we shouldn't bother with the cryostat again until we can demonstrate a Q of close 104 at room temperature.