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Diffusion Inhibiting Elastomeric Seal for High and Ultra-High Vacuum Applications

Stage: Prototype

A method for producing a diffusion inhibiting elastomeric seal suitable for use in high vacuum and ultra-high vacuum applications

The present invention includes a method for producing a diffusion inhibiting elastomeric seal suitable for use in both high vacuum and ultra-high vacuum applications. The method involves coating at least a portion of the surface of an elastomeric seal with a thin layer of metal. Additionally, the invention includes diffusion inhibiting elastomeric seals. A diffusion inhibiting o-ring is exemplary of a diffusion inhibiting elastomeric seal. In some embodiments, the diffusion inhibiting elastomeric seals also are opaque to light and prevent the passage of selected wavelengths, and in some embodiments light photons of all wavelengths pass through the diffusion inhibiting seal.



The present invention includes a method for producing a diffusion inhibiting elastomeric seal suitable for use in high vacuum and ultra-high vacuum applications. The method comprises coating at least a portion of the surface of an elastomeric seal with a thin layer of metal. Additionally, the invention includes diffusion inhibiting elastomeric seals. A diffusion inhibiting o-ring is exemplary of a diffusion inhibiting elastomeric seal. In some embodiments, the diffusion inhibiting elastomeric seals also are opaque to light and prevent the passage of selected wavelengths and in some embodiments light photons of all wavelengths through the diffusion inhibiting seal.

The method and seals of the invention have significant advantages over the metal gaskets currently used in high vacuum and ultra-high vacuum applications, namely they are much less expensive, are reusable and convenient to install.


In one exemplary embodiment the elastomeric seal is an o-ring. The o-ring is formed from an elastomeric material that forms a dynamic seal system such that pressure from a high pressure side of the seal forces the elastomer into corners or regions exposed to low pressure or vacuum. Conventional elastomeric materials such as synthetic polymers such as Viton or natural polymers such as rubber are exemplary of suitable materials for forming the o-ring. In a representative embodiment, the portion of the o-ring that is exposed to low pressure or vacuum is coated with a thin layer of a malleable metal. At least a portion of the surface of the o-ring is coated with a thin layer of metal. The coating is applied in such a way and of a thickness that the metal is compatibly deformable with the elastomeric material of the o-ring when pressure is applied to the o-ring to form a seal.

Applications and Industries

This invention is particularly well‑suited as an inexpensive, convenient device for sealing the connections between components in high vacuum and ultrahigh vacuum systems to prevent diffusion of gases and/or photons and provide an inexpensive and reusable alternative to the all metal gaskets currently used in high vacuum and ultra-high vacuum applications. However, the method is not limited to o-rings and may be applied to other types of polymeric and/or fiber seals to coat at least a portion of the surface of the elastomeric seal to inhibit gas diffusion and/or photon transmission.

Benefits

The method and seals of the invention have significant advantages over the metal gaskets currently used in high vacuum and ultra-high vacuum applications, namely they are much less expensive, are reusable and convenient to install.

Attachments

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Patents