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VS6 Highlights

On 14th & 15th October 2015 at the Ricoh Arena, Coventry, the 6th Vacuum Symposium UK Conference hosted a variety of technical meetings of general and specialist interest that attracted 180 delegates. The Conference is established as an annual event alongside Vacuum Expo and provides a forum for scientists, academics, technicians and industrial users who share ‘vacuum’ as a common interest.

This year there were four technical meetings, all free to attend made possible by the support of fifteen sponsors from industry and academia.


Emerging Technologies in Vacuum Science

The Emerging Technologies in Vacuum Science meeting was jointly organised by five IOP Groups. The aim of the meeting was to look at recent developments in science which are traditionally based on the use of a vacuum environment. The meeting was well attended with about 50 delegates who enjoyed the presentations and triggered much discussion.

Joachim Schnadt from Lund University, Sweden described recent developments in a technique to operate x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy at near-ambient pressures (circa 1 mbar), thus increasing the range of materials that can now be analysed using this method.

Holly Hedgeland (UCL) described the development of a scanning helium microscope which gives surface sensitive images with sub-micron resolution without surface damage. Progress in the understanding of the performance of another vacuum-based analysis method, UHV Atomic Force Microscopy, was described by Adam Sweetman, University of Nottingham.

There was a talk from NPL that described the progress toward a new definition of the kilogram mass which does not require reference to a material artefact such as the current Platinum cylinder. It is expected that a redefinition of the kilogram will be ratified in 2018.

There were also presentations on thin film phase change materials and photocataylic thin films. James O’Shea, University of Nottingham, closed the meeting with the description of a UHV-compatible electrospray method for deposition of non-volatile molecules. The technique opens up a wide field of study of the interaction of large molecules, such as polymers, some organometallic complexes, proteins and nanoparticle clusters, with an atomically clean surface in UHV which allows a new range of surface science study to be undertaken.

Technical Plasma Workshop

The 13th UK Technological Plasma Workshop focussed on the theme: “Plasmas — Large and Small” Invited speakers representing different areas within this theme were:-

Ian Chapman, Culham who discussed the opportunities for UK universities to be involved with the MAST-U experiment which should be commissioned by the end of 2016.

Alan Sykes, Tokomak Energy Ltd. presented an educational and informative talk about the work at Tokamak Energy entitled “Opportunities and challenges in the quest for compact fusion”.

The conference programme consisted of 10 oral presentations and 15 poster presentations with fifty five people from a mixture of UK institutes attending.

Poster Sessions

Poster Sessions were held in the exhibition hall (Vacuum Expo) over both days of the event and included posters covering many of the topics featured in the technical meetings.


Poster Prize winner on Day 1 was Alexander Wright, Loughborough University (pictured centre above), receiving his prize from VS Committee representative, Joe Herbert (L) and Luke Wells (R) from the sponsors, Hiden Analytical Ltd.

On Day 2, Peter Townsend, University of Cambridge (below right) received his prize from Vahid Krupic, Managing Director of the sponsors Oerlikon Leybold Vacuum UK Ltd.


Functional Thin Films

The Functional Thin Films meeting comprised two sessions on Semiconductor Materials and Metal Oxide Nanoparticles & Thin Films.

Three invited speakers came from reputable institutions from different corners of the UK covering topics on transparent conducting oxide semiconductors, vacuum deposited ionic oxide semiconductors, and functional films by magnetron sputtering processes.

A variety of other interesting research areas were covered from graphene research and other emerging 2D materials through to Atomic Layer Deposition for ultra-barrier applications.


RGA12 focussed on ‘Advances in Mass Spectrometry’. There were improvements to the RGA instrument like obtaining flat top peaks, double deflection ion optics (MKS) to achieve improved detection in the ppb range, and a novel low-power ion source.

Application of RGA’s included Imaging Mass Spectrometry, and a hand-held ionisation source for ambient RGA.

There was also preliminary data from an innovative plasma based ion source directed towards high sensitivity permeation measurement.

Harry Leck Memorial Medal

Dr Austin Chambers, Honorary Visiting Fellow at the University of York, was the inaugural winner of the Harry Leck Memorial Medal. Austin is pictured below receiving the award from Esma Leck.

Further details of Austin’s distinguished career and his contribution to the VS Training Modules can be found on the here.



Training. The basic and advanced training courses in vacuum science and technology are a key element of Vacuum Symposium UK. Once again the courses were well attended to learn from the experienced Trainers, Austin Chambers & Ron Reid. This year an extra training course on ‘Leak Detection’ was added with content from Oerlikon Leybold Vacuum UK. Training was sponsored by the British Vacuum Council.


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9 & 10 October 2019, Ricoh Arena, Coventry
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