Historical Perspective of Turbomolecular Pump
An Arab engineer named Al-Jazari was the first to invent a suction pump in 1206. However, it took up to the fifteenth century for the suction pump to emerge on Europe soil. In 1654, German scientist Otto von Guericke made a breakthrough and invented an actual vacuum pump for the first time in history.
In 1912, German scientist Wolfgang Gaede reached a milestone and invented the very first molecular drag pump in history. But, this pump was highly vulnerable to crush out even by tiny matter particles due to a highly constricted gap between its static and rotating parts. In the end, with plenty of flaws, it couldn't earn wide use.
Wolfgang Gaede added another feather to his tally of success by inventing a diffusion pump in 1915, whose working fluid was elemental mercury. The pump was commonly called the mercury diffusion pump. American scientist Irving Langmuir while studying at General Electric Research Laboratory in New York, then developed a more efficient mercury diffusion pump in 1916.
The Swedish physicist Manne Siegbahn engineered the first disk-type molecular drag pump in 1926. All the early molecular drag pumps were traction-design molecular pumps. They had drawbacks like big size, slow pumping, narrow gap, high malfunctioning rate, lots of constraints in working, and limited application coverage that prevented them from gaining wide acceptance.
The turbomolecular pump has its origin in Wolfgang Gaede's molecular air pump. Following the invention of molecular and diffusion pumps, years went by with lots of R&D toward improving their performance. As a result, Dr. Willi Becker, during his time as head of the laboratory at Arthur Pfeiffer Vacuum GmbH in Germany, invented the turbomolecular pump in 1958 as a new type of molecular air pump.
What is a Turbomolecular Pump?
A turbomolecular pump (TMP) is a high vacuum pump, briefly known as a turbo pump. TMPs can create ultra-high vacuum conditions and bring air pressure down to lower than 10^-10 mbar within a sealed chamber. The rotational speed of TMPs ranges from 24000 rpm to 90000 rpm with a typical pumping rate of 4000 l/m. It doesn't require water cooling. TMPs are free of oil or other contaminants, so they are cleaner than other vacuum pumps. However, TMP high vacuum pumps can only work in tandem with a roughing pump such as a rotary vane pump.
Applications of turbomolecular pumps include mass spectroscopy, nanotechnology, high-energy physics, and other high-tech fields.