A what?

When we were kids, we often heard my father talk about the diamond supported helix. We had no idea what a diamond supported helix was, except that it was something that went into a traveling wave tube, which is a type of microwave power tube. Of course we also had no idea what a traveling wave tube was, or what a microwave power tube was.

Since then, I learned that Dad did some of the pioneering research in diamond supported helices, and I’ve had enough coursework in physics to understand that this is something to do with electron optics. But I never knew what a diamond supported helix looked like. Today, my younger sister and I were looking through Dad’s files, and we actually found a photograph of a diamond supported helix. It was nothing like I imagined it. But it is actually quite a beautiful piece of technology:

Detail of a diamond supported helix

Look at all that copper, presumably to suck heat out. Guess I have to bring that photo along when we go visit Dad tomorrow; he’ll get a kick out of seeing it.