The European Vacuum Conference convenes every three years in Europe to discuss the latest developments in vacuum science and technologies. The 16th edition of the European Vacuum Conference (EVC-16) was recently held in Marseille — and the event ran from the 22nd to the 26th of November. The conference was jointly organised by the French Vacuum Society (SFV) and Aix Marseille University (AMU) and A3TS, with the endorsement of ITER.
This year’s programme included parallel sessions on various subjects, including Surface Science, Thin Film, Plasma Science and Technology, Vacuum Science and Technology, Nanometre Structures & Nanotechnology, Electronic Materials & Processing, Biointerfaces, Applied Surface Science, and Surface Engineering.
Experts from the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER) provided special lectures on energy, plasma and materials and on “building the world’s largest complex vacuum system.” A day was also devoted to visiting the 180-hectare ITER site which lies close to 80 km north of Marseille. In fact, ITER was a huge focus this year and a session was held to unpack how the ITER project was unfolding. Several papers and posters were devoted to exploring the ITER project.
In addition to the oral presentations, a significant number of poster presentations were made and a trades fair exhibition was held which attracted most of the major vacuum technologies and materials treatment manufacturers.
Some of the vacuum science and technology highlights included a paper presented by B Jenninger and A Stoltzel of CERN. Their presentation discussed comparative measurements of a range of ionisation gauges with the potential to use in XHV @ 10-13 mbar and was titled — ‘Comparison of ionisation vacuum gauges close to their pressure limits and design ideas for high sensitivity vacuum gauges for XHV.’ In their research, electrostatic trapping of electrons was shown to significantly increase the gauge sensitivity and hence collector current in the XHV range. A CERN improved Helmer gauge was quoted as having an X-ray limit of 10-15 mbar.
Work on the development of a novel ionisation gauge suitable as a reference standard was presented by a consortium. As such, two gauges were made to PTB’s design; one by VACOM and one by INFICON. The results of measurements at several calibration laboratories showed a ~ 1% level of reproducibility. Quoting from the presentation, “The gauge is suitable as a reference standard and to be standardised on the ISO level but also attractive for industrial applications because a gauge exchange does not require calibration or readjustment of a process.”
Other design highlights include the time of flight (TOF) RGA designs that were presented by Vacom (Novion) and Spacetek Technology AG. Work in progress in NEGs was discussed by researchers from the UK-based STFC in a presentation entitled: ‘A progress in development of non-evaporable getter coatings in UK’. The UHV characterisation of NEG films was discussed by representatives from CNRS/Paris-Saclay Univ (France) in a poster presentation entitled ‘Design and construction of an ultra-high vacuum set up for the characterisation of getter films deposited on wafers’.
The next EVC conference, EVC-17, is due to take place in 2024. And if it’s anything like EVC-16, then we can look forward to more high-caliber conversations facilitated by leaders in vacuum science and technology.