Encompassing nanotechnology, big science and lots in between – Vacuum Expo is coming to the Ricoh Arena in Coventry, UK, on 17–18 October. The only event of its kind in the UK, this year's exhibition includes the 3rd Vacuum Symposium, which includes scientific and technical sessions along with practical courses on vacuum technology.

The symposium will feature three technical programmes, one running on Wednesday and the other two on Thursday. The Wednesday programme is entitled "Vacuum and plasmas for Industry – essential ingredients for manufacturing success". It will offer presentations on a range of industrial process including a discussion of freeze-drying by Kevin Ward of Biopharma Technology. The use of vacuum technology in the large-area coating of glass will be covered by John Oldfield of the Pilkington Technology Centre, while Niall Macgearailt of Intel Ireland will talk about plasma process control in the semiconductor industry.

Big science on the agenda

One programme running on the Thursday will look at various aspects of vacuum technology for "big science". Speakers include CERN's Giulia Lanza, who will discuss the vacuum system of the Large Hadron Collider (LHC). She will cover everything from its design to how the system is performing under the exacting conditions of the particle-physics experiments done at the Geneva-based facility. Other accelerator-related presentations include one by Dimo Yosifov of TRIUMF in Canada, who will provide an update on the facility's cyclotron vacuum system.

Paul Flower of the Culham Centre for Fusion Energy in the UK will talk about the significant demands that fusion reactors put on their vacuum systems. The vacuum requirements of experiments done in extreme conditions using super-intense lasers will be covered by Steve Blake of the Central Laser Facility in Harwell, UK, and Matthew Cox of the Diamond Light Source – also in Harwell – will talk about the not-insignificant demands of running the vacuum system of a major synchrotron facility.

Also on Thursday is a programme that will focus on the use of vacuum technology in the creation of nanostructured metal-oxide thin films. Divided into three sessions, the first part of this programme will look at the techniques used for the fabrication and characterization of thin films. The second session focuses on optical films and includes an invited talk by Alfons Zöller of Leybold Optics in Germany, who will discuss the use of plasma-assisted reactive magnetron sputtering to manufacture high-performance interference filters.

Industrial processing

The final session of the thin-film programme will cover industrial processing and will begin with an invited talk entitled "Traceable measurements of water-vapour transmission rate for high-performance barrier layers" by Paul Brewer of the UK's National Physical Laboratory.

Delegates can also take part two training courses. On Wednesday and Thursday mornings, Austin Chambers of the University of York will teach a half-day course on "Basic vacuum principles". This course will begin with a basic description of a typical vacuum system and then move on to the discussion of specific topics including how a vacuum is specified, a comparison of the fluidic and molecular description of gases, and the fundamentals of pumping.

An afternoon course called "Creating and measuring vacuum" will also run on both days. Led by Ron Reid of Daresbury Laboratory, this session will look at the various techniques for creating and maintaining a vacuum – and how to determine its pressure.

Meet the experts

The Vacuum Symposium event is co-located with Vacuum Expo, which is organized by Xmark Media and will include representatives from many of the vacuum industry's leading companies. As well as having ready access to an extensive pool of vacuum knowledge, delegates will also get a close look at a wide range of new technologies at the exhibition. On display will be surface-engineering equipment such as plasma-enhanced chemical-vapour-deposition sources and sputtering systems. Visitors will also be able to see a variety of pumping technologies, including ion, turbomolecular, rotary-vane and root-pumping systems.

A wide range of vacuum-related equipment will be on show, including sample-handling systems, isolation valves and analytical instruments such as mass spectrometers and residual gas analysers. Power supplies and other electronics systems for vacuum systems will also be on display.

Vacuum Expo is held alongside the Photonex exhibition, which is the UK's largest event dedicated to optics, photonics and vision technologies. This year, biomedical and biophotonic applications of optical technologies will be a highlight of the event, which will include a one-day meeting on biomedical sensing on Thursday 18 October.