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  • Print publication year: 2009
  • Online publication date: August 2012



In the modern laboratory, there are many occasions when a gas-filled container must be emptied. Evacuation may simply be the first step in creating a new gaseous environment. In a distillation process, there may be a continuing requirement to remove gas as it evolves. Often it is necessary to evacuate a container to prevent air from contaminating a clean surface or interfering with a chemical reaction. Beams of atomic particles must be handled in vacuo to prevent loss of momentum through collisions with air molecules. Many forms of radiation are absorbed by air and thus can propagate over large distances only in a vacuum. A vacuum system is an essential part of laboratory instruments such as the mass spectrometer and the electron microscope. Far infrared and far ultraviolet spectrometers are operated within vacuum containers. Simple vacuum systems are used for vacuum dehydration and freeze-drying. Nuclear particle accelerators and thermonuclear devices require huge, sophisticated vacuum systems. Many modern industrial processes, most notably semiconductor device fabrication, require carefully controlled vacuum environments.


The pressure and composition of residual gases in a vacuum system vary considerably with its design and history. For some applications a residual gas density of tens of billions of molecules per cubic centimeter is tolerable. In other cases no more than a few hundred thousand molecules per cubic centimeter constitutes an acceptable vacuum: “One man's vacuum is another man's sewer”.

Cited References
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This system is an adaptation of a design described by Robinson, N. W., Ultra-high Vacuum, Chapman and Hall, London, 1968, pp. 72–73.
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General References
Comprehensive Texts on Vacuum Technology
Dushman, S., Scientific Foundations of Vacuum Technique, 2nd edn., Lafferty, J. M. (Ed.), John Wiley & Sons Inc., New York, 1961.
Hablanian, M., High-Vacuum Technology, Dekker, New York, 1990.
Lewin, G., Fundamentals of Vacuum Science and Technology, McGraw-Hill, New York, 1965.
O'Hanlon, J. F., A User's Guide to Vacuum Technology, 3rd edn., Wiley, Hoboken, NJ, 2003.
Lafferty, J. M. (Ed.), Foundations of Vacuum Science and Technology, John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York, 1998.
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“Vacuum Technology: Its Foundations, Formulae and Tables”, until 1996 published as an appendix of the Leybold AG catalog, Product and Vacuum Technology Reference Book, Leybold, Inc., San Jose, CA.
Detailed Calculation of Gas Flow
Roth, R. A., Vacuum Technology, 2nd edn., North-Holland, Amsterdam, 1982.
Livesey, R. G., “Flow of Gases through Tubes and Orifices” in Foundations of Vacuum Science and Technology, Lafferty, J. M. (Ed.), John Wiley & Sons, Inc., New York, 1998.
Design of Vacuum Systems
Dennis, N. T. M. and Heppell, T. A., Vacuum System Design, Chapman and Hall, London, 1968.
Green, G. W., The Design and Construction of Small Vacuum Systems, Chapman and Hall, London, 1968.
LaPelle, R. P., Practical Vacuum Systems, McGraw-Hill, New York, 1972.
Outgassing Data
Campbell, Jr. W. A., Marriott, R. S., and Park, J. J., A Compilation of Outgassing Data for Spacecraft Materials, NASA Technical Note TND-7362, NASA, Washington, DC, 1973.
Properties of Materials Used in Vacuum Systems
Espe, W., Materials of High Vacuum Technology: Vol. 1, Metals and Metaloids; Vol. 2, Silicates; Vol. 3, Auxiliary Materials, Pergamon Press, Oxford, 1968 (a translation of the original German published in 1960).
Sealing Ceramics and Glass to Metal, Heat-Treating, Cleaning, Building Joints, and Feedthroughs
Rosebury, F., Handbook of Electron Tube and Vacuum Techniques, Addison-Wesley, Reading, Mass., 1969.
Roth, A., Vacuum Sealing Techniques, Pergamon Press, New York, 1966 and American Vacuum Society Classics, American Institute of Physics, New York, 1994.
Ultrahigh Vacuum
Redhead, P. A., Hobson, J. P., and Kornelsen, E.V., The Physical Basis of Ultrahigh Vacuum, Chapman and Hall, London, 1968.
Roberts, R. W. and Vanderslice, T. A., Ultrahigh Vacuum and Its Applications, Prentice-Hall, Englewood Cliffs, NJ, 1963.
Robinson, W., The Physical Principles of Ultrahigh Vacuum Systems and Equipment, Chapman and Hall, London, 1968.
Weston, G. F., Ultrahigh Vacuum Practice, Butterworths, London, 1985.
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