No. 154, July - December 2003

Marie-Geneviève Barthés-Labrousse
President - IUVSTA
(2001-2004) Triennium

Dear Colleagues,

I already emphasised in a previous message the special nature of IUVSTA, whose members are national societies rather than individuals. Even though most of our activities such as workshops, conferences, short courses… are devoted to individuals, I believe that we should take more advantage of the opportunity which we are offering to representatives of all national vacuum societies to meet twice a year at the occasion of the IUVSTA executive council meetings. By encouraging the exchange of ideas these meetings can promote collaboration among our 31 members. In this way we could help to reduce the number of scientific conferences which are now anarchically flourishing across the world. Of course, fruitful and successful exchanges require the partners to have an intimate knowledge of each others activities. Due to the highly multidisciplinary character of our Union and the diversity in size of our members, this is not an easy task. As a nano-step towards this direction, a 5 minute presentation of the hosting society at the occasion of the executive council meetings has been implemented at the beginning of this triennium. Of course, more should be done to encourage our members to develop common activities.

Such a need for a better interactivity clearly appeared during the last decade among the European vacuum societies, and was discussed at the occasion of three regional meetings of vacuum society presidents held in France (1995), Sweden (1997) and Germany (2003). This may be due to the European peculiarity where there are many vacuum societies within a rather small geographical area. These meetings evidenced a strong desire to increase cooperation. To achieve such a goal, the creation of a European vacuum society has been occasionally envisaged. However, at the last meeting, the creation of an annual single major vacuum conference in Europe was considered to be a more appropriate long term goal. In this regard, IUVSTA can certainly facilitate exchanges and discussion has already started in the long range planning committee.

The first piston vacuum pumps appeared in the middle of the 17th century. Following a long period of very slow progress, vacuum technology advanced at an explosive rate in the latter part of the 20th century and high and ultrahigh vacuum now have routine applications in research as well as in many technologies. This multidisciplinary aspect of vacuum is of course reflected in the IUVSTA activities which covers both fundamental research and technological applications as diverse as engineering coatings, plasmas, semiconductors devices, nanomaterials… However, most of the activity of the Union is presently devoted to high and ultrahigh vacuum. By doing so, we are neglecting the increasing use of low vacuum in a wide range of industrial applications (medical, food industry, packaging, transportation…), as well as scientific areas for which vacuum is not relevant but which are close to the IUVSTA interests (electrochemical interfaces, biological interfaces…). It will be a key challenge for the future of IUVSTA to identify and incorporate new areas of science and technology.

In the remaining 6 months of this triennium, most of our scientific effort will be devoted to the preparation of the International Vacuum Congress (IVC-16) to be held in Venice at the end of June. The first indications arising from the abstract submission suggest this will be a well attended and fruitful meeting and I strongly encourage you to participate.

Finally, may I take the opportunity of this message to wish you all a Happy New Year.

Marie-Geneviève Barthés-Labrousse
January 2004