The Harvard Gazette reports a global shortage of helium, caused in large part by sanctions on Russia, which ships much of the world's supply, is beginning to affect research in physics, engineering, chemistry, biology and medical research, all of which use the gas to cool things down to temperatures way, way below freezing.
At Harvard, researchers may have to shut down pieces of expensive technical equipment that rely on helium and liquid helium, the super cold liquid version of the gas. In some cases, this could cause irrevocable damage to the instruments and force some of the scientists to bring lines of research to a halt. Some ripple effects could include graduation delays for students whose thesis work depends on those projects. ...
Charles Vidoudez at the Harvard Center for Mass Spectrometry is starting to lose sleep over the shortage. Vidoudez, the center’s principal research scientist, uses it to keep four of the facility’s mass spectrometers at the extremely low pressures they need to be at to operate. The halt would affect dozens of labs that depend on the center to perform a range of analyses using the machines. Vidoudez has spent countless hours calling or emailing just about every supplier that he could find.
A mid-January leak at the US national helium reserve in Texas didn't help, researchers say.