In the 50s of last century physicists began to feel the need to capture various particles for further research. First one, who come up with a solution, was a certain Mr. Paul, therefore the device is called the Paul trap. A few decades later he was given a Nobel Prize for this contribution. Nowadays there are many different geometrical arrangements, which are used in various devices primarily for scientific purposes. My trap looks like this:

Trap in its full glory.

Four parallel wires each two opposite are connected and placed in to the PVC support, for its construction I would like to thanks to Jiri Bartos. The voltage brought on the wires generate an electric field, which imprisons charged grains of flour. Why flour? I have enough of it at home. :-) Of course you can use any other powder available, but think carefully, what do you want to clean. :-)

So we have trap and flour yet, next we must ensure supply of electricity. This problem helped me to solve Pavel Konecny, for which I would like to thank him. Have you ever took apart the microwave? The heaviest part is the high voltage transformer. It can transform 230 volts from the socket to 2000 volts! WARNING! HIGH VOLTAGE IS DANGEROUS. DO NOT TRY THIS WITHOUT SUPERVISION OF AN EXPERIENCED ELECTRICIAN! Or a crazy physicist. :-) In front of the transformer is placed transformer controller, which allows me continuously decrease the voltage to zero. The controller isn’t important to capture particles, but very usefull for showing some interesting phenomena, that you’ll see in other sections. :-) And since I like myself and don’t want to die yet, I conected on the output of the transformer protective resistors.

We will need eventually a wand of Harry Potter (Fly Stick Van De Graff Levitation Wand), which will charge electrically the flour, and the aforementioned green laser. The whole experimental equipment is in the following figure:

Transformer controller (1), transformer from the microwave hidden in a plastic container (2), wand of Harry Potter (3), green laser (4).

Do you know, how to recognize a theoretical physicist? When I first showed functional trap to my supervisor and told him, that on the wires is currently about 1500 V, (this would be without protective resistances very dangerous!), but it SHOULD be safe, just nobody hasn’t enough courage to try it yet, his first reaction was: “Wow, show me!” and he began touch them! :-)

And how such charging looks like? Check out the following picture and video.

Top view of particle charging. Bright background on the left side is a foil at the end of wand, on which is poured a pile of flour.

I used to shoot a camera, which also can record video frame rate 210fps, 420fps and even 1000fps (fps = frames per second). Recorded video is then played back at 30fps, that means it’s slowdown. Just for an idea, a common camera frame rate filming is 25fps or 30fps. Very impressive to see is seven times slower charging of flour in the following video:

This miss only suitable music. If you have any suggestions, write me a comment. Thanks :-)

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