Mareike Herrmann: having lab equipment named after beloved characters lightens the mood
In our laboratory in Saxony, attentive visitors will hear famous names being casually mentioned. How come?
Previously, I had worked in a lab where potentiostats were named after Star Wars characters and the rig was called the planet where the character is from. Not only was it a welcome change to lighten the mood at the lab, but it was easier to remember what went where.
After joining Skeleton last summer, I thought we could implement something similar in our laboratory in Großröhrsdorf to make planning and talking about the machines more fun.
Mareike and Balrog. Above: Mareike and Legolas
The Cell Development team consist of people who take their work seriously but at the same time aren’t too serious when working. There’s always someone cracking jokes and keeping the mood uplifting. Instead of phrases like “Arbin 3 channel 36 is not working” we can now use vocabulary that is much more exciting. It really makes more fun to say “Channel 36 on Legolas is not working”, “Sam has a temperature issue” or “Gandalf is completely occupied”.
Why go with J.R.R. Tolkien’s “Lord of the Rings” (LOTR)? It was the result of a joint brainstorming. A colleague who was recovering from COVID had just rewatched the movies and some of team were binging “The Rings of Power” TV series. As a result, LOTR was fresh in our mind.
To be fair, Tolkien is popular among the entire Cell Development Team, making it an easy choice. As the universe includes a lot of characters, we will always have opportunity to name the new machines when we grow our facilities.
We took the narrative another step further and renamed our laboratories as well. As a results, instead of left, middle and right lab we now have Shire, Rivendell and Mordor. The quality lab situated away from the rest is called Moria.
Can you give a few examples about how the character names are chosen?
Gandalf, named after the protagonist of the series, is a powerful instrument that we use for heavy-duty testing (pulse characterisation with high current etc). Legolas got his name after the Arbins’ 56 channels that made me think about his never- ending stock of arrows. Gimli’s aux cables look like a beard. Galadriel, one of the oldest characters in LOTR, is our oldest Arbins. Halbrand, the character who turns into the antagonist Saurun, is situated in Mordor.
Some members of our "Lord of the Rings" squad :
Gandalf for cell modelling testing (validation, pulse characterisation).
Balrog for cell modelling testing similarly to Gandalf, but can provide up to 5xA per channel.
Frodo uses welded terminals, making the connections quicker
Gimli for lifetime testing
Samwise for long-term testing (i.e calendric aging)
- Galadriel for testing laboratory level cells with our Curved Graphene from Bitterfeld-Wolfen.
Balrog is one of the newest additions to our LOTR squad. What is so exciting about the device named after a mighty demonic monster? We named our newest instrument after Balrog due to its impressive power characteristics for testing in extreme conditions. Balrog has four channels and each channel can apply up to 500 A. With him we can test ESR and power behaviour at different application conditions, we also have ovens to change the temperature and spikes in current in the cells. We can take Balrog’s live-testing results and use them for simulating different application behaviours.
On the other side of the character spectrum, we have Legolas, the prince of elves. What are we using him for?Legolas is used for all types of testing, for example to test different electrolytes and their impact on energy of the cell or different separators to see how the cell behaviour changes in terms of equivalent series resistance (ESR) and capacitance (C). With most test that we’re running on Legolas, we want to determine the lifetime of the cell. We charge and discharge the cells with a specific C-rate to determine the aging. We also test the addition of electrolyte additives to improve calendric aging.