About AVS > History

A Brief History of the AVS Organizational Structure:

Original Group - On June 18, 1953, fifty-six people from diverse technical backgrounds, gathered in New York City to consider the need for a forum to discuss problems and applications of high vacuum technology. Six days later, the Committee on Vacuum Techniques was formally organized with the mandate to initiate a symposium and develop programs for education and for standards. The first symposium was held June 16-18, 1954 and attracted 295 registrants from several countries.

Formalizing AVS - Until 1961, the Society was essentially comprised of the people attending the annual symposium, whose votes elected the officers and committee chairs for the succeeding year. At the 1957 Symposium, the membership changed the name of the group to the American Vacuum Society, Inc. A revised Constitution and By-Laws was adopted in 1961, establishing the current procedure of a mail ballot for the election of officers and directors.

Emergence of Divisions and Technical Groups - To respond to specific interests within the membership, divisional organizations were developed. The first of these, Vacuum Metallurgy, was formed in 1961, which became Advanced Surface Engineering in 1999 when an existing organization affiliated with the Society. The remaining Divisions developed largely from within the Society; listed in order of formation, they are: Thin Films (1964); Surface Science (1968); Vacuum Technology (1970); Electronic Materials and Processing (1979); Fusion Technology (1980), which became Plasma Science and Technology in 1986; Applied Surface Science (1985); Nanoscale Science & Technology (1992); Magnetic Interfaces & Nanostructures (1999); Biomaterial Interfaces (2003).

Technical Groups - Focus on newly emerging, dynamic growth areas of science and technology. Established in 1994, and include Manufacturing Science and Technology (MSTG) (1994), The Science of MicroElectroMechanical Systems (MEMS) (1999), Technology for Sustainability Technical Group (TSTG) (2003), and 2D Materials (2022).

Beginning of Chapters - The Society was originally organized in the northeast and remained largely in the East and Midwest for several years. As the membership expanded throughout the country, the need for regional groups increased. The first such group was developed by members in the Seattle area, which became the Pacific Northwest Section of the AVS in 1962. Other groups soon followed and there are now 19 regional Chapters throughout the country.

Annual Symposium - The annual symposium, held in the fall of each year, remains one of the most important forums for the presentation and discussion of technical information. It involves all of the divisions and technical groups and includes many joint technical sessions, which help maintain the inter-disciplinary nature of the Society. Topical symposia have long provided another forum, frequently organized in conjunction with other technical groups, and are increasing in importance. Some are organized in conjunction with the annual meeting, while others, held throughout the year, provide an opportunity to concentrate on a particular topic without the distractions inherent in a larger meeting. The Society is a member of the International Union for Vacuum Science, Technique and Applications (IUVSTA) and participates in the organization and hosting of its international meetings.

Awards - The Society is responsible for the administration of several awards for excellence within its areas of technical interest and for service to the Society.

Publications - Early publications of the Society were transactions of the annual symposia from 1954 to 1963. The first volume of the Journal of Vacuum Science and Technology appeared in 1965. In 1983 the Journal was split into two sections: A -- devoted to Vacuum, Surfaces and Films, and B -- devoted to Microelectronics, Processing and Phenomena. In January 1991, the scope of section B was expanded to include nanometer-scale science and technology with a subtitle change to Microelectronics and Nanometer Structures --Processing, Measurement and Phenomena. In 1985, a new publication format, devoted primarily to the publication of topical conferences, was introduced to permit separate and timely publication of each conference in archival format at an acceptable cost. These are published by AIP as the AVS Conference Series. Surface Science Spectra, an archival journal for the publication of spectra databases from surface analysis techniques was first published in 1992. Biointerphases launched in 2006 as an open access journal for the biomaterials interface community providing an interdisciplinary platform for scientific exchange among the biology, chemistry, physics and materials sciences communities. It is designed as well to provide a discussion forum for dissemination of scientific theories, results or interpretations as well as encourage dialog between scientists and the public with respect to cogent policy issues. This online journal is also available as a printed volume each year.

Educational Programs - Educational programs started early in the Society's history and have involved extensive activity at both national and local levels. They include short courses at basic and advanced levels, video presentations, and monographs. The Society also encourages interest in science by participation in programs such as the Science Fairs. A more recent addition to our educational program is Science Educators Day where high school teachers are invited to participate in some of the general symposium programs and are given grants to purchase vacuum demonstration kits. The first short course at anannual meeting was presented in 1968 in conjunction with the Instrument Society of America, and such courses have expanded at a remarkable rate. During 1995, approximately 100 individual short courses were presented with a total attendance of around 3000. Courses are organized both at the national and local levels and are presented as separate sessions or in conjunction with technical meetings, both for the Society and on behalf of other organizations. Courses have been given in Mexico, Brazil, Sweden, and Japan.

Electronic Development - The Society has made great strides in the area of electronic development since 1993, when AVS first offered the Journal in a CD-ROM format. Since that time there has been considerable growth with the development of an electronic abstract submission program for Symposium abstracts, as well as the establishment of the AVS Web Site. This site is filled with Society information, as well as access to JVST-On-Line -- our introduction to electronic publishing.

AIP Affiliation - The Society became an affiliate member of the American Institute of Physics (AIP) in 1963 and was elected a full member in 1976. In 1967, the AVS office moved from Boston to the AIP building in New York, and a full-time Executive Secretary was hired for the Society from 1968 until 1989. In 1992, a Technical Director was hired to lead the AVS into new and important technical areas, and in 1993, an Office Manager was brought on board to run the New York Office. In that same year, the AVS moved from its location on 45th Street in New York City in the AIP building (the AIP was relocating to College Park, Maryland) to an office in the Association Center for non-profit associations at 120 Wall Street. In 2007, AVS purchased space on the 15th floor of 125 Maiden Lane, just a couple of blocks from the Wall Street location. The AVS office moved into this space in July 2008. At the present time, the Society has seven staff members at the AVS Headquarters in Maiden lane, two at the office in Chico, California, and five at the Editorial Office for the Society’s journals in North Carolina. Membership of the Society was about 5,000 in 2008.

AVS Archives: History Page - The AVS records, from the founding of the Committee on Vacuum Technology in 1953, are archived by the American Institute of Physics and can be examined with the permission of AVS. The records occupy significant shelf space in a climate-controlled environment. The archives contains both documents and photographs relevant to the history, governance, and activities of the Society. They provide a record of the growth of AVS, both in numbers and activities since its founding. The documents in the Archive have been fully organized and cataloged, and the finding aid for them is online at https://history.aip.org/history/ead/20080202.html. It provides information on the contents.

The People - Throughout its history, the Society has benefited from the unselfish commitment of a large number of talented and dedicated men and women. These people have sustained its vitality, serving diligently in all facets of the governance and operation of the organization. To these people and to the many industrial and government organizations that have provided their support, the Society acknowledges its deep indebtedness.