By Phil Danielson


Book Reviews

Foundations of Vacuum Science and Technology

James M. Lafferty, Editor
John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
728 pgs.
ISBN 0-471-17593-5

This book fits into the multi-author category in which various authors contribute chapters or sections covering their particular area of knowledge. Additionally, it takes its heritage from Dushmanís Scientific Foundations of Vacuum Technique which first came out in 1949 and is considered the seminal book on vacuum technology. By 1962, developments in vacuum technology had expanded to the point where a 2nd edition was required, and this edition was also edited by Lafferty. As time and technology progressed, it became apparent that certain areas of vacuum technology had progressed far beyond what was covered in the 2nd edition, and that further updating would be required to keep pace with new or expanded knowledge. This book is not merely a 3rd edition, but a logical extension of the 2nd.

Since this book came out at about the same time as the Handbook of Vacuum Science and Technology by Hoffman, Singh, and Thomas, itís inevitable that they will be compared. This is especially true since they are both multi-author and the separate sections in both are written by well-known vacuum experts. In these terms, they are much on a par, but thereís one glaring difference. This book was written to totally update certain areas of vacuum technology that had changed dramatically from the earlier Scientific Foundations of Vacuum Technique, 2nd Edition, without attempting to cover all of the areas of overall interest to the vacuum technologist.

The Handbook of Vacuum Science and Technology, though, is a full-range book. Ideally, an up-to-date vacuum technology library would contain both books.

Scientific Foundations of Vacuum Technique is not aimed at the vacuum neophyte. Itís an advanced book for the experienced vacuum practitioner. In general, it presupposes an overall knowledge of the field and makes no real attempt to cover such areas as flanges, seals, valves, etc., that havenít really changed all that much recently. Since most vacuum books include the obligatory section on the kinetic theory of gases with special attention to gas flow, it is surprising, at first, that this is covered in detail in this book since the basic behavior of gases hasnít changed. It quickly becomes clear, though, that the understanding of the behavior of gases has advanced during the years, and this means that the subject needs to be reprised in full detail to encompass the changes. This it does, with a heavy dependence on mathematics that requires some previous background.

The same can be said for two other important areas of development that have changed dramatically in the last decade or so. These are pressure gauging and pumps. In each case, there is enough detail to bring the reader from early days into todayís advances. Gauging includes, for example, such subjects as spinning rotor gauges and convection-enhanced thermal conductivity gauges. Pump developments include areas not often discussed in other books such as oil-free pumping, liquid-ring pumps, and regenerative pumps. Additionally, the section on getter-pumps and pumping is probably the most complete found anywhere.

This book would be highly recommended to any experienced and knowledgeable vacuum practitioner needing or wanting to maintain knowledge at the cutting edge.

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Last Modified:
May 25, 2004