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Carter Manufacturing Supplies Ceramic UNASIS Bearings for High-Tech Spectroscopy Research

Cooperation between Carter Manufacturing Limited, UK and HZB, a high-tech research center in Germany and leads to the development of new technology in the field of spectroscopy. Since this area of research requires vacuum environment and cryogenic temperatures, Carter Bearings supported the project of HZB with the supply of UNASIS Ceramic bearings, that are perfectly suitable for such a test environment.

HZB research center

The German Helmholtz-Zentrum Berlin für Materialien und Energie (HZB),employs approximately 1,100 staff. It has a total budget of about 110 million Euros. About 100 doctoral candidates from the neighboring universities are involved in research and training at HZB. Outside the Berlin-Brandenburg region, HZB cooperates with more than 400 partners at German and international universities, research institutions and in companies. This shows the importance of the research facility, needless to say that only very specialised and high-tech equipment fulfill their requirements. Based on their experience in the field of specialised, high-quality bearings for extreme environments Carter Manufacturing Limited, immediately proved to be a suitable partner.

HZB_Bessy_Carter_Cryogenic_ProjectHZB operates two large scale scientific facilities for investigating the structure and function of matter: the research reactor BER II, for experiments with neutrons, and the electron storage ring BESSY II, producing an ultra bright photon beam ranging from Terahertz to hard X-rays. Both facilities provide research opportunities for the study of matter and provide a highly specialised sample environment in which experiments can be carried out under the most sophisticated conditions (ultra high vacuum (UHV), cryogenic environment, high magnetic fields, low temperatures, high pressure).
Because of these very specific test conditions, parts and equipment have to endure the most extreme circumstances. Here’s where Carter Bearings plays an important part in the development of one of the research objects, called the Cryomanipulator “Pente.Ax” for spin-and angle-resolved photoelectron spectroscopy. An instrument designed at the Synchrotron Radiation Facility BESSY-II by Dr. Andrei Varykhalov. Normal bearings wouldn’t last in such an environment. UNASIS ceramic bearings supplied by Carter, however, are perfectly suited for this extreme test environment.

Pente.Ax Cryomanipulator

As Dr. Varykhalov explains, electronic structure determines electric, magnetic and optical properties of solids. Angle- and spin-resolved photoelectron spectroscopy is the most powerful experimental technique for the investigation of electronic and magnetic properties of crystals. In the core of the method is the photoelectric effect.

Carter_and_Bessy_Pente.Ax_CryomanipulatorThis experimental method requires very precise positioning of the investigated sample in an experimental setup. Linear translations are needed to adjust the sample in the focus of electron spectrometer as well as to select the spot of analysis at the sample surface. Angular rotations allow to select directions in which properties of electronic bands in the crystal are measured.

UNASIS Cryogenic manipulator bearing.

The ceramic Silicon Nitride (Si3N4) UNASIS bearings are used here at HZB in an ultra-high vacuum environment, at cryogenic temperatures, super-cooled by liquid helium. Carter Manufacturing gave full technical support in specifying and ensuring the UNASIS bearings were suitable for the application. The bearings have a much longer life because of their specific properties of the silicon nitride ceramic material the races and balls were produced from, and were found to be a key part for this cutting edge scientific research.

Ceramic & hybrid extreme environment high precision bearings for vacuum and cryogenic applications.


Carter realises the importance of supporting these kind of projects and developments. Since 1999, Carter Manufacturing Limited has been providing revolutionary ideas in motion, starting with the European distribution agreement for Carter Manufacturing Inc products, from which the name was adopted. The company has now grown its product portfolio to a range that services many specialist worldwide customers with bearings, bearing assemblies and linear products.

Carter Manufacturing have exclusive European Master Distributor status for Carter Manufacturing Inc, Silverthin Precision Thin Section Bearings, UNASIS International Limited, KMS and also have agreements in place with specialist premium manufactures IBC, THK & Unitec. We are certified to ISO 9001:2008 incorporating the Aerospace requirements AS9120 Rev A, ensuring that products carry full traceability.

Over time Carter Bearings has proven to the industry their ability to bring concepts from the drawing board through to realised products that function in applications previously thought of as to difficult for rolling element bearings. Whether it is for prototype gearboxes, aircraft actuation components or advanced radar systems, Carter Manufacturing Limited, has provided and continues to provide solutions to ever more complex engineering requirements.

Apart from the special environment ceramic and hybrid bearings, UNASIS brand also offers split thin section bearings, light weight slewing bearings, high temperature bearings and aerospace bearing tools.

Ceramic_Cryogenic_BearingCeramic materials have been proven to be an invaluable resource when conventional bearings are unable to perform. Whether it’s an issue with lubrication, speed or incompatibility of material, there is a ceramic or hybrid bearing capable of providing a solution. With their unique properties ceramics can be used in a variety of applications where conventional materials reach their limits. They have been used widely throughout a host of nuclear, vacuum, cryogenic, high speed, insulating, semiconductor and non-magnetic applications.

Scientific importance already proven after first results.

The mechanism for azimuth rotation of the cryomanipulator performs conversion of linear movement from the vacuum feed-through into rotational movement, and involves gears and rope-transmission. Gears, wheels and sample stage itself are mounted on various Silicon Nitride Ceramic UNASIS bearings. Cooling of the rotatable sample stage is performed through two flexible copper-braids which are attached to a “cold-finger” – a copper block through which liquid helium flows. It’s evident that the development and research of such an object requires in depth technical support. Carter’s highly trained staff helped to ensure that the chosen bearing type matches the required conditions and were at full disposal during the course of the experimental stage of the project.

According to the project leader, Dr. Varykhalov, the operations in vacuum are very reliable and the UNASIS bearings itself are mechanically very robust. The manipulator is used almost continuously in the experiments for more than one year and didn’t require any maintenance yet. Dr Varykhalov commented “I think that you have very competitive prices for very high-quality ceramic bearings. Thus if more people from ‘vacuum-science’ discover your products, it will be very profitable for everybody”

Furthermore, HZB’s Dr. Varykhalov explained that since the test results have been published, it became clear that this development raises high expectations. Already several scientific publications based on the experiments performed with this manipulator have appeared and certainly more will follow.

The project’s decision on using Carter’s high precision ceramic bearings validates the importance of being able to keep a finger on the pulse of new technologies and applications, an issue that always had main importance in the philosophy of Carter Manufacturing Limited.

Author: Karl Brundell, Carter Manufacturing Limited

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