Optical High Precision Components by Hellma
in the European Columbus Space Laboratory
The batch reactor is used for researching crystal growth in weightless conditions. In this environment, the structure and function of biological macromolecules (Proteins) can be investigated particularly well. In order to guarantee perfect measurements the batch reactor is manufactured using synthetic quartz glass. High-grade polished components were connected to a monolithic quartz component using thermal bonding technology without using additional components. The demands made on technology, precision and tolerances are extremely high. In order to improve signal yield during the measuring process the surfaces were high-quality and nonreflective. The results of the experiments are directly channelled into biological and medical research to improve understanding of protein synthesis as well as gaining an important insight into fighting infections and other illnesses. The batch reactors form part of a so-called Protein Crystallisation Diagnostics Facility (PCDF) and were taken on 7th February 2008 to the International Space Station ISS on the 24th launch of the NASA Space Shuttle Atlantis.