The Glassblowing Shop at Princeton University is a core facility of the Department of Chemistry and is run by Mike Souza, a veteran laboratory glassblower who has more than 40 years of experience.

The mission of the shop is to work with researchers in the design and fabrication of specialty scientific glass instruments and to repair or adapt existing glassware for specific needs.

Glassware can be created to meet certain specifications in regards to temperature, pressure and optical transmission. The glassblowing shop has the capacity to work with all types of glass including quartz, borosilicate, aluminosilicate and soft glass. The facility is fully equipped with an oversize lathe, diamond saw, diamond wet grinder and torches.

Commissioned by the School of Architechture, this piece of handblown glass is interconnected to induce convection
Photo by Mike Souza

The glassblowing shop is physically located in the Department of Physics' Jadwin Hall, which directly faces Frick Chemistry Laboratory. Please contact Wendy Arterburn, Financial Administrator for the Department of Chemistry, about current hourly rates.

An example of a piece of glassware designed by the glassblowing shop for optimal utility is a "Schlenk line." Used throughout the chemistry department, a Schlenk line is a high-vacuum gas manifold system used for the safe manipulation of air sensitive compounds. One opening is connected to a high-vacuum pump that removes air and low boiling solvents from the flasks. Then, inert gases are back-filled into the flask through another line. This technique is used to remove trace amounts of oxygen or water that may react with the compound.

The Princeton Schlenk line is a variation of the Waydya/Dye line developed at Bell Labs. Both of these systems incorporate grease-free rotary valves. However in the Princeton Schlenk line, the valves are oriented upright, allowing the user to view the valve seats as the valve is rotated. The Princeton configuration results in less outgassing because the lower seats always face the vacuum and the piston is always quenched in the dry gas. [Click here for a PDF Guide on safely using Schlenk lines]

Mike Souza at the glass lathe
Photo by C. Todd Reichart