Choosing A Power Supply For Your Lab

One of the most critical features in any laboratory is the power supply. They are required for so many experiments and projects, and ensuring you have the right one for your applications and requirements is crucial. A faulty or incorrect type of power supply can be hazardous for yourself and your colleagues, while also impacting your work. There are a range of different power supplies available for labs, and they are necessary for supplying clean currents and stable voltages during your experiments.

At SciChem, we work closely with Lascells who are one of the top manufacturers of laboratory power supplies available today.

What Is A Laboratory Power Supply?

Power supplies are an essential piece of kit for any lab, as they are used to test electrical components and circuits. This kind of equipment is powered using voltage and they are used for many different projects and experiments at all levels. Sometimes referred to as benchtop power supplies, these are portable devices which can be used on a lab surface and moved around as required.

In some laboratories, mains adaptors are used as the main power supply, but this can be a problematic approach. Having a standalone power supply means you can clearly see both the current and voltage for your experiment, delivering a precise and reliable reading every time. Depending on the type of power supply you choose, you can also select specific voltages and currents for each project you are working on.

Types Of Power Supplies

Power supplies come in various different types and each work in a slightly different way. Simple devices are perfect for basic level experiments, and they feature two displays and two dials. You can set specific current and voltage limits for your project and choose from Constant Voltage (CV) mode or Constant Current (CC) mode. Generally speaking, there are two main types of power supplies for a lab; linear and switching.

A linear power supply often experiences high loss of energy and needs regular cooling with a fan. They are larger and heavier than switching supplies because they have a transformer fitted. Switching power supplies are much more efficient, and also smaller and more compact. This kind of equipment can emit a high-frequency noise and is not ideal for working with inductive loads like coils and motors.

Lascells Power Supplies

Lascells are passionate about ensuring science experiments and teaching of science is enjoyable for students and easy for educators. That’s why they focus on creating lab equipment, which is simple, effective, and reliable. They produce a couple of power supply products which are extremely popular in education and school laboratories around the world.

  • Lascells Revolution Variable Power Supply: This compact power supply works up to 8A DC with the option for switched, variable or constant DC voltage. The maximum voltage limit is super simple to adjust, and this power supply also benefits from automatic overload protection and digital voltage readout. The lightweight case and compact design makes this power supply ideal for labs with limited space or for portable use.
  • Lascells Revolution Switched Power Supply: The Lascells switched power supply has a regulated DC output allowing the supply to remain constant no matter what is connected to the terminals. There is a maximum voltage limiter which is operated using an Allen key, allowing educators to set a maximum voltage for students to use. The compact design is easy to move around the lab as required and also takes up minimal storage space.

What To Consider When Choosing A Power Supply For Your Lab

Knowing the best power supply for your laboratory can be a confusing decision. To help you understand the right option for your requirements, we’re sharing the main things you should consider when comparing power supplies.

  • Power and Output: You can choose devices with a range of different power levels. Some can supply a current at any voltage while others support multiple ranges for a continuous transition. If you regularly need to test different devices simultaneously, then a power supply with multiple outlets is essential.
  • Safety Features: Look for power supplies with adequate safety features and DUT protection to cover you in case of failure.
  • Dimensions: The size and weight of the power supply is important to think about too. If you need to move the equipment around your lab often, or store them away, you should choose a supply which is compact and portable.
  • Specifications: There is a lot more to a power supply than just voltage, outputs and current. You should also take into consideration line regulation, readback currency, sense connections, interfaces, noise output, load regulation, and transient response.


For more information on power supplies and assistance finding the right solution for your lab, contact our expert team.

Cloud Chambers: Explained by the SciChem Science Team

Radiation is all around us, and completely invisible to the naked eye. It wasn’t until 1896 that anyone knew this radiation even existed. It was first discovered by Henri Becquerel when he realised that photographic paper was blackened by rocks containing uranium. Today, we know that thousands of substances are radioactive, giving off particles which travel in the air until they become absorbed by another material or the air itself.

Detecting this radiation can be done using a piece of equipment called a cloud chamber. A cloud chamber can reveal any background radiation in the atmosphere, and despite sounding complex, they are quite simple pieces of kit to understand. At SciChem, we stock Lascells cloud chambers, which are popular in all kinds of laboratories and education settings.

Lascells are dedicated to manufacturing products which make teaching science easy and enjoyable. Their expert team have been creating lab equipment since 1997, and their cloud chamber is a bestseller from their product range. In this guide, our specialists are delving into what a cloud chamber is, what they detect, and how they work to reveal radiation.

What Is a Cloud Chamber?

A cloud chamber is a piece of equipment which has an enclosure filled with supersaturated water or alcohol vapour. It was first invented in 1912 by Charles Wilson, and this piece of kit is sometimes called a Wilson cloud chamber. He first invented the cloud chamber as a way of creating small clouds and then observing the optical phenomena around them, which is where the name cloud chamber comes from. Over a few years, he began to realise that the chamber he had created could also detect the movement of subatomic particles. 20 years after his initial invention, Wilson had perfected the design and created the world’s first particle detector.

The original cloud chamber invented by Wilson had three separate sub-chambers: the sensitive chamber, the control chamber, and the vacuum chamber. In addition to these, there was also various valves and a water-sealed piston. The sensitive chamber is the area where subatomic particles can be seen, and it’s a sealed enclosure with saturated air inside. Saturated air has 100% humidity, which means it is holding the maximum amount of vapour possible at the current pressure and temperature.

What Do Cloud Chambers Detect?

Cloud chambers are often used in laboratories and science experiments in order to detect ionising particles. The particles that can be studied with a cloud chamber include electrical charged particles, and the devices can also reveal the amount of ionisation, the properties, and the identity of the particle. They are commonly used for the study of radioactive elements, including alpha, beta, and gamma radiation. Alpha is more ionising compared with beta, and gamma rays are electrically neutral so do not ionise, which means they cannot be detected in a cloud chamber.

This equipment can also be used to detect cosmic rays because the secondary rays are created in particle showers which are ionising, including electrons and muons. While cloud chambers can detect cosmic rays, it is spark cambers which are more commonly used for this area of study nowadays. Many of the initial discoveries for cosmic rays were made using a cloud chamber, such as the discovery of kaon and positron.

How Do Cloud Chambers Work?

Cloud chambers are used to detect subatomic particles, but they do not work by displaying the particles themselves. Instead, this equipment reveals the tracks left behind by particles in the form of a thin mist. The tracks are a result of condensation of the vapour in the enclosure and differ slightly between various types of particles. This is how cloud chambers work to identify particles and their differing properties.

A cloud chamber works using the expansion of saturated air and the downward displacement of a piston. The air works on the piston at the expense of its own internal energy, following the first law of thermodynamics. This causes a decrease in the air’s temperature thanks to the decrease in internal energy, and the result is that the air is in a super-saturated state. The air is just about to condense, but an extra impetus is required to make this happen.

Charged particles crossing through the air provides this extra impetus and causes the air molecules to ionise and knocks the electrons off their orbit. These ionised molecules are attracted together, causing drops of water to condense into a misty trail. The trail only lasts a few seconds but can be used to detect characteristics of various particles. Some cloud chambers use alcohol vapour as opposed to water, because of the low freezing point.