[time-nuts] Helium and MEMS oscillators don;t mix well

Poul-Henning Kamp phk at phk.freebsd.dk
Wed Oct 31 18:51:02 EDT 2018

In message <55d57bbe-ec9b-dc3c-f5d1-fdd21338f344 at karlquist.com>, "Richard (Rick
) Karlquist" writes:

>This reminds me of a Jack Kusters (of HP fame) anecdote.

>At which point Jack pointed out
>that in that case, it was clear than they had a radon
>incursion in their facility.

I have a hard time beliving radon was a relevant failure mechanism
for "telco-class" Rb units, things would literally glow in the dark
long before the Rb concentration became a problem.

It is true that Radon is a small atom, but it is 50% larger than
Helium and that is a big handical when diffusing.

More importantly, Radon decays in a matter of days, much faster
than it would "evaporate" out again, and it leaves a tell-tale
signature of lead atoms behind from the decay.

I find it far more likely that their problem were molecular hydrogen,
which is even smaller than Helium atoms, and present in copious
amounts near any rechargeable battery and a fair number of industrial

Poul-Henning Kamp       | UNIX since Zilog Zeus 3.20
phk at FreeBSD.ORG         | TCP/IP since RFC 956
FreeBSD committer       | BSD since 4.3-tahoe    
Never attribute to malice what can adequately be explained by incompetence.

More information about the time-nuts mailing list