Books & Publications about Vacuum and Related Topics


The following books are highly recommended as references for the vacuum enthusiast. I have organized them by topic with some commentary. Unless otherwise noted, these are available for purchase through As is typically the case with technical books, these are all fairly expensive when purchased new. Be sure to check the used book sellers for better deals.

Please email me with any suggestions for additions.


Amazon purchases made through these links will help support this site and tBJ.

General Vacuum

Any of the following books will provide a great understanding of the fundamentals of vacuum science and technology. I think that O'Hanlon is required reading. David Hata's recently published book is an excellent introductory text. Nigel Harris' Modern Vacuum Practice is not available through Amazon but can be obtained from its US distributor. Click on the image to get to Howard Tring's site. Also, please check out Vacuum Technology & Coating Magazine. Clicking on the picture will get you to their site. This publication is free to "qualified subscribers" but the past year's issues are available complete on the web. The magazine has great feature articles plus various vacuum and process tutorials.

Laboratory Technique (including vacuum)

John Strong's Procedures in Experimental Physics served as my introduction to vacuum. It is now terribly outdated but the theory parts are sound and the book is a wonderful source of practical information and ideas. The link below takes you to Lindsay Publications which has done amateurs a great service by reprinting this mid-20th century classic.

Coyne and Moore's contributions are worthy contemporary equivalents to Strong and are highly recommended. Strattman provides a good deal of practical knowledge of vacuum in the context of neon signwork. Finally, no amateur can live without the complete collection of Scientific American Amateur Scientist columns, now available on CD. This is a great testament to amateur science and to Scientific American before that publication committed virtual suicide.


AVS Classics in Vacuum Technology

A number of years ago the American Vacuum Society launched a reprint series of great vacuum books. These generally date from the 1960s and they have worn well. Roth and Rosebury are essential and when you have those get the book by Kohl. The other two books are also excellent references.

Plasma Science & Technology

All of the following are excellent books. Von Engel and Chapman complement each other nicely with the latter having an emphasis on applications of plasma technology. J. Reece Roth's volumes are also "must haves" for anyone interested in plasma technology applications, especially Vol. 2. Please note that Industrial Plasma Engineering Vol. 1 is currently out of print although Amazon does list availability from used book resellers. Boxman et al's Handbook of Vacuum Arc Science and Technology represents a thorough discussion of arc processes. Finally, Hollahan & Bell's Techniques and Applications of Plasma Chemistry is a must have if you are interesting in plasma ashing, sample preparation, etc. This book is also out of print but Amazon generally has several copies available.


Vacuum Deposition Processes

Holland's Vacuum Depostion of Thin Films is long out of print but it remains an excellent resource. The link shown is to the 1960 edition (first edition was 1956, latest was 1966). Be sure to do a general search of Amazon for other editions as availability will change over time. I was a bit surprised to see the Airco book, Physical Vapor Deposition, (printed in 1976) listed on Amazon as it had seemed to me to be a rather obscure publication. It is pretty good as it contains some basic vacuum theory as well as good expositions on ebeam and sputtering techniques. Smith's Thin-Film Deposition: Principles and Practice is up to date and provides a broad overview of processes. This book is a great addition to the bookshelf, especially given its modest price (relatively speaking of course). The Handbook of Physical Vapor Deposition Processing by Donald Mattox is essential for those who are engaged professionally in PVD processes.


Industrial and Other Vacuum Processes

Books covering vacuum processes that aren't related to semiconductor films or coating are not widely available. Two of the books noted below are excellent but are out of print. At the present they are available. Ryans and Roper's text provides a wonderful understanding of vacuum equipment and processes that are used in the chemical industry. Rolland Hower's book reflects his years at the Smithsonian where he prepared biological specimens for display by freeze drying. His subjects spanned the range from spiders to alligators. The book is worth snapping up even if you don't want to freeze dry your recently departed Fluffy.


History and Related Technogies

Paul Redhead's Vacuum Science and Technology provides a wonderful overview of the history of vacuum in terms of people and innovations. Although not specifically vacuum related Mould's A Century of X-Rays and Radioactivity in Medicine is totally fascinating (and a bit gross at times). Dahl's Flash of the Cathode Rays is essential reading for any one interested in J.J. Thomson and the history of the electron. His other book, From Nuclear Transmutation to Nuclear Fission, 1932 to 1939 is a compelling account of the race to transmute nuclei with artificially accelerated protons. Jago's book on Norwegian scientist Kristian Birkeland's arctic auroral studies is fascinating.


Good and Bad Science

"Concensus science is an extremely pernicious development that ought to be stopped in its tracks. Historically, the claim of consensus has been the first refuge of the scoundrel; it is a way to avoid debate by claiming that the matter is already settled. Whenever you hear the concensus of scientists agrees on something or other, reach for your wallet, because you're being had." Michael Crichton, 2003.

Aliens Cause Global Warming
A Lecture by Michael Crichton,
Caltech Michelin Lecture, Jan. 17, 2003
Fear, Complexity & Environmental Management in the 21st Century
Michael Crichton,
Washington Center for Complexity & Public Policy, Nov. 6, 2005
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