We got to go to the High Density Electronics Center at the University of Arkansas Fayetteville. Dr Douglas Hutchings took us in to see the place where he and his colleagues work on their innovative solar energy invention.
Some parts of the lab look a lot like an ordinary office. They have chairs and worktables and computers. However, the parts behind yellow plastic are “clean rooms.” They have no dust in them, and people must wear special clean room suits to go in them. There’s a “Gowning Room” where the scientists put on their gear and then go directly into the clean room so they don’t bring anything in with them.
Dr. Hutchings explained that some of the parts they work with are only as big as a grain of dust, so any dust would ruin their products.
The clean rooms are covered with plastic and filled with interesting things like lasers and special machines. Dr. Hutchings told us about a 3D printer, a machine that can print out three dimensional objects the way a printer at schools prints out worksheets.
We’re not sure what this machine does. Different researchers use the HIDEC lab, including both scientists from the university and scientists working at businesses in town.
This is a list of “prechecks”: reminders of things to check before beginning to use the machine. The HIDEC lab has some dangerous machines and chemicals, and the equipment is expensive and delicate, so everyone is very careful.
These lights are alarms that go off in case of any kind of danger.
In our science classes, we learn about safety procedures and the scientific method and we do experiments. It’s interesting to see where working scientists do their experiments.