Sep 10, 2008

Tsinghua University, Teacher's Day, SPS

First off- It rained all yesterday so today there was the most amazing blue sky I've seen yet. You'd think I was back home in Santa Barbara.
Second- Here are some more cool pictures of Tsinghua University.

The main building- and some famous art building.

It was Teacher's Day yesterday here so the group all got cards for their professor, Dr. Wei Pan. I gave him a gift from David Clarke. It was funny. They gave him the card and a huge bouquet and he got all emotional and said some stuff in chinese to the group of about 15 students. I think he was saying something about how great they were or something. At the end everyone was quietly turning to leave and I, in typical loud American style, slap him on the shoulder and say "Happy Teacher Day!" in english at which point everybody busted up laughing. It must have been a serious moment before. Oh well, later he bought us all Coke and killer moon cakes!

Some of you may be wondering... "Why the heck is Taylor in China again?" Well I'll tell you. I'm here to use the Spark Plasma Synthesis (SPS) machine. As you can see , the machine is about 1 Chunlei tall and 2 Chunleis wide. It's for sintering ceramic powders at high temperatures at ultra-fast rates. It can do so by using huge electrical currents to cause joule heating in the sample itself which is clamped into an otherwise normal hot-axial press. This provides fully dense ceramic samples, but the extremely short sintering time does not allow significant grain growth which enables better mechanical performance and grain boundary scattering of phonons which reduces the thermal conductivity.

This is where the magic happens. We almost exploded the machine the other day by focusing the pyrometer on the carbon blanket instead of the carbon die. I wish anybody who reads this could actually understand the gravity of that last statement. To put it bluntly- we seriously almost blew up the lab.

This is where the dirty work happens...


  1. I tuned out about the time you used the term "phonons", my chemistry only went up to Photons. Sorry. Glad you didn't blow up the lab...or Chunlei. Keep up the shotty work.

  2. Okay now I feel really stupid. I still have no idea what you are doing in China! Perhaps you could explain it in Barney or Sesame Street terms and then I'll be onboard.....Aunt Helen

  3. ok. you take the white dirt that I made in UCSB- and you put it in a hole and you zap fry that sucker with electricity. then if you did it correctly, you'll be able fly airplanes for less money.

  4. Okay I get it now. You put the lime in the coconut and shake it all up and it makes the big plane go up in the sky.