Laboratory gases are readily available in large cylinders from companies such as Airgas, Norco and local welding supply companies.
But for small quantities of gases or specialty gases used in vacuum optics such as UV sources and Ion guns, it may make more fiscal sense to use lecture bottles instead of the larger size gas cylinders which are commonly found in laboratories.
Lecture bottles are small compressed gas cylinders that are typically 12-18 inches long and 2 to 3 inches in diameter.
They hold approximately 2 cubic feet of gas and are pressurized to as much as 1800 PSI. High pressure gas cylinders require a regulator to step the pressure down. The pressure required for the application will determine which regulator is needed. For example, the Varian variable leak valve used on many 04-303 ion sources can take a maximum pressure of 500 PSI. However, it is recommended that the argon gas pressure be set to 15 to 25 PSI for best results.
Since lecture bottles are small, it costs less to ship them. But most importantly, when you buy a lecture bottle you are buying the bottle as well as the gas. Full sized cylinders are generally rented for a monthly fee in addition to the cost of the gas and delivery. Factoring in the monthly rental fee for the cylinder, a lecture bottle could be much less expensive over time. Especially for optics like UV sources where you may only use it a few times a year.
In the US, Matheson provides a wide assortment of specialty gases in lecture bottles. Matheson also has a worldwide distribution network.
Ultra-high purity gases have 5 nines (99.999%) purity and Research grade gases have 6 nines (99.9999%) purity.
Another provider in the US that carries Lecture bottles is Advanced Specialty Gases –
In Europe, Messer can provide gases in small cylinders:
In the UK, CK Gas Products provides a variety of gases in lecture bottles:
Gas regulators are available from these companies as well as from Grainger. Be sure to specify the type of connection on the gas bottle when you order it and also to order the correct connection on the regulator. For best results, insert a valve between the regular and the outlet line. Finally, you also will need to pump out the line and regulator before opening the gas bottle as otherwise your gas will become contaminated with air.