AVS Historical Persons | Theodore E. Madey - 1996

Theodore E. Madey - 1996

Oral History Interview with Theodore E. (Ted) Madey

Interviewed by Rey Whetten, October 15, 1996
WHETTEN: Good afternoon, I'm Rey Whetten, another gray-haired, or maybe I should say lack-of-haired, ex-president of AVS, and it is the afternoon of October 15. We're sitting here at the 43rd National Symposium of the AVS. Jim Lafferty is behind the camera there, and I have a young man who's had a very illustrious beginning to his career, Ted Madey, who we'll be talking with this afternoon. Ted, where were you born? How did you get raised in this world?

madey.JPGMADEY: Well, thank you, Rey. I was born in Wilmington, Delaware, and at a very early age, my family moved to Baltimore, and I was raised in Baltimore, spent most of my young life there. I went to parochial schools and public schools in Baltimore and the surroundings; I went to high school and college there. I graduated from Loyola College in 1955 and then went on to the University of Notre Dame and did my Ph.D. work there. I had my first experience with vacuum actually in that summer before graduate school. One of the college professors at Loyola was a Notre Dame graduate, and he had done surface physics there - thermionic emission - and he hired me for a summer position, and I had my first experience with an ultra-high vacuum system, oil diffusion pumps, and copper traps and looking at thermionic emission properties of tungsten wires. But then basically, I did my graduate work also in surface physics and was involved in the use of vacuum. The technology was fairly basic then - again, oil diffusion pumps and sealed-off tubes for most of it. My work happened to deal with field emission microscopy - etching field emission tips in tungsten and looking at surface diffusion and desorption processes. I came to appreciate the labors that it required to generate ultra-high vacuum in those days.  One of the things that just came to mind was that we went to great pains to clean the glass, and my professor, Ed Coomes, had a glass cleaning procedure which involved, among other things, a rinsing with sodium hydroxide and with boiling water, and the end of the process was an ammonia solution followed by more boiling water. And somehow, in those hot summer days in northern Indiana, those ammonia fumes really got to us.

WHETTEN: Ammonia fumes down the hall, right?

MADEY: But we had good, clean vacuum. [Laughter]

WHETTEN: One of my memories of my early days at Yale was all the mercury that was spilled on the floor from broken mercury pumps and that sort of thing.

MADEY: It's amazing how casual people were about those things! Actually, after Notre Dame, I went to the National Bureau of Standards as a post-doctoral fellow. I was in what was called the Surface Chemistry Section, and again, we were doing work with ultra-high vacuum and glass oil pump systems. But some of the old wooden floors at the Bureau of Standards occasionally had to be ripped up for various purposes and inevitably there would be puddles of mercury there.

WHETTEN: That's exactly what we did! So how did you get involved with AVS?

MADEY: Well, after several years at the Bureau of Standards, I had published some papers in surface science and I got to know some of the people in the surface community. And I was invited about 1967 or '68, something of that sort, by Dick Roberts, then at GE, he was a manager, I guess...

WHETTEN: Yes, he was a good friend of mine; a manager, he's in the field. I used to play squash with him. 

MADEY: Good friend of yours, yes; play squash, yes. I guess by that time the Roberts and Vanderslice book had been published1, or was it about that time?

WHETTEN: It was that time, yes, right.

MADEY: But in any event, I think the AVS had just recently...

WHETTEN: Vanderslice was there, too, under Jim Lafferty, the guy behind the camera there, right. [Laughter] 

MADEY: But the AVS I guess had just recently established several divisions, among which was the Surface Science Division. So he asked me if I would be a candidate for the Executive Committee of the Surface Science Division, and I was pleased to do so. So I guess I won the election. In any event, from that time, I was active in the Surface Science Division and then moved on to become the Program Chairman of the Divisional Program and ultimately the Chair of the Division. 

One early AVS activity was working in 1971 with Charlie Duke, who was the first program chairman for the International Conference on Solid Surfaces, which was held in conjunction with the International Vacuum Congress in Boston in '71. Charlie had the idea - I guess he was then chair of the Surface Science Division - that we should separate out surface science. It was something that was really coming into its own. And give it more or less co-equal billing with the rest of the International Vacuum Congress. And the AVS, and the International Union, agreed that was a good idea. The conference, along with the whole IVC, was a huge success and it's been perpetuated ever since in that way.

WHETTEN: I guess the AVS still separates the...

MADEY: Right. So those were the beginning days. And then I guess in the late - well, I guess there was one other thing of note at that time. I had been asked, with John Yates, to be a special proceedings editor for one year, which I guess was the year that you were the Program Chair.

WHETTEN: I was Program Chair2. I remember, yes!

MADEY: So that was kind of a fun experience and a kind of baptism into AVS activities.

WHETTEN: Yes, I sort of remember that you and John Yates felt I should've dropped more of the speakers who hadn't submitted manuscripts...[laughter] 

MADEY: Yes, that's right. I guess we had a much more rigid attitude about this relationship between oral presentations and written ones in those days!

WHETTEN: Okay, when were you elected President then?

MADEY: Well, I was elected President in '81, but I became involved with the Board of Directors earlier than that. I remember I was going to Sandia Labs for a period as a visiting scientist in the summer of '77, and I got a call from Len Beavis, who must have been the nominating committee member at that time, asking me if I'd be willing to run for the Board of Directors. So I was elected to the Board I guess in '78, '79.

WHETTEN: So you did one term or two terms?

MADEY: Hmm, I'm not actually sure, now that you mention it. I think it must have been two terms - no, it must have been just one term two years and then I was President-elect; yes. So I was President-elect in the year that John Vossen was President, and that was really quite an education! [Laughter]

WHETTEN: Did you reconsider whether you wanted to be President?

MADEY: Oh my goodness. [Laughter] The year that John was President was of course the...

WHETTEN: Do you want to say something about that?

MADEY: Just a few words. I know that this has been something that John himself must have discussed before this very camera3, but in 1980, the AVS organized a symposium on bubble memories for magnetic storage. And several people from eastern countries, Iron Curtain countries as well as from China, had been invited to participate in the conference. And a few days before the conference was to begin, John (the President of the AVS) and the organizers were contacted by representatives, I believe of the Department of Commerce as well as other agencies, instructing them to dis-invite these people because there were proscriptions against the transfer of technical information to certain foreign nationals - members of certain nations. And this was under some veiled threat that the President himself might be jailed if he didn't comply. So it was a rather tense period. There were attempts to comply...

WHETTEN: Especially if you were President.

MADEY: Especially if you were President. [Laughter] And I felt a special concern because as President-elect, I also happened to be an employee of the Department of Commerce, and so there was a certain sensitivity - The National Bureau of Standards was an agency of the Department of Commerce at the time. But we managed, with John's good graces, to get through it. There were several somewhat semi-amusing moments in the sense that the people who were dis-invited were finally allowed into the conference, but they had to sign some sort of an agreement that they wouldn't divulge information that they learned to citizens of certain nations, which included their own colleagues! But nonetheless, that aspect of it seemed to blow over. But this same difficulty, that is the question of scientific information transfer and the role of a national society in complying with government regulations, came back again to haunt us in the next year, and actually for a couple of years after. And the issue seemed to be whether or not it was really the responsibility of a Society to police the information that was being presented at the Society. Not just to assure quality, but to try to comply with government regulations as far as information transfer.

WHETTEN: A very different standard than there used to be.

MADEY: Really, yes. Fortunately, that whole issue tended to die out a little bit. But just parenthetically, I think that there was a climactic event about two years later, in Boston in 1983 when John Arthur was President; there was a spy arrested at the National Symposium - a man named Alfred Zeah. He was a citizen of East Germany who had come up through Mexico and had been accused of some activities that involved breaches of national security, and I guess the FBI set him up and picked him up at an elevator in the conference hotel. There were lots of tense hours surrounding all of that. But fortunately, we passed through that period without too much difficulty.

WHETTEN: Well, AVS was very different back in 1981. Do you have any recollections of what those differences were?

MADEY: Yes, it was. Oh, several of them. It was certainly a much smaller organization in '81; if I recall, there were a little over 4,000 members at about that time. I happened to look up some of the demographics - it was certainly as diverse an organization in '81 as it is now. There were about 30 or 40% physicists and 30 or 40% engineers, and the rest chemists and people with other backgrounds. But the National Symposium that year, which was held in the Disneyland Hotel, had about 400 papers, and of course, the Symposium and the Exhibition were the biggest ever. I guess they're always the biggest ever. 

WHETTEN: 1200, 1300, something like that. 

MADEY: So it's really grown quite a lot. The JVST [Journal of Vacuum Science and Technology] published something like 2700 pages in that year, which again are considerably fewer pages than are published now. So it was obvious that the slope was going in the right direction, and the trends have continued very nicely.

WHETTEN: Were there any difficult-to-handle issues at the time?

MADEY: Well, one issue that seemed somewhat burning at the time was the question of whether or not we should expand the AVS office and recognize the fact that this organization, which had been built so extensively on volunteers, was going to have to rely a bit more on paid assistance. And this was particularly true in the organization of the National Symposium. We had relied exclusively on volunteers for local arrangements for all these years - making arrangements for the hotels, and negotiating prices, and what have you. And we made the decision in 1981 that we should hire a professional Meetings Manager, who would take care of those responsibilities. We thought, also, that it would be wise at that time to think about the whole organization of the office. Up to that point, Nancy Hammond had been sort of a one-person show with some occasional assistance from some secretarial or clerical help. But basically, Nancy had been running the show almost unaided, and so we decided to combine a meetings manager position with sort of an office manager position. We advertised this position, and we were deluged; we had about 125 applicants. It was quite amazing! The quality of the people was quite high, too. There were several people with Ph.D.s and a number with master's degrees who applied for a position which had been billed at a salary in the mid 20s, and so I guess that was also a sign of the times.

WHETTEN: Were they local people or in New York City or...?

MADEY: Most of them were in the New York City area, but some from outside the area. We advertised relatively widely - of course in the Sunday Times and what have you, so that that got relatively wide-spread circulation. But we pored through these applications and settled on about ten people, and John Vossen and John Thornton and I (the Past-President, the President, and the President-elect) went to the New York office one day where these interviews had been scheduled. These people marched through and we must have seen at least a dozen, perhaps more, and went through the whole sequence. One rather amusing incident happened during the course of these interviews. One of the candidates asked, "Well, which of you is the Past-President and which of you the President and which is the President-elect?" And John Thornton replied, "Well, that should be fairly obvious. The President-elect is the one that looks so apprehensive and nervous. The President is the tired-looking fellow, and the one who's relaxed and calm is the Past-President." [Laughter] That was really a classic. But as a result of that interview, we hired Marion Churchill, and Marion hit the ground running and participated in that fall's Symposium. She actually didn't participate in the organization, but she did go to Anaheim and watched over things and saw how things were going.

WHETTEN: Did you go to New York a lot during that time?

MADEY: Well, I got to New York occasionally while I was still in Washington, but there was one interesting aspect of that year. I was a visiting professor at Caltech for a five-month period, from May until the end of September, and during that time, of course, there was much of the preparation for the National Symposium, which coincidentally was at the Disneyland Hotel. So I got to know many of the Local Arrangements people quite a lot. I worked closely with Joe Davis. Remember him? He was the Publicity Chair at the time. But also, because of the time difference, I would get into my office early, 7 to 7:30, and start dialing up, and I could spend about an hour, hour and a half, on the phone on AVS business and be sure to catch everyone just before they left for lunch on the east coast. So that actually worked out fairly well. [Laughter] But I did get up occasionally and got to know the office and the office staff, and then actually in the years after that, I got up there more often because I was by then involved in some AIP affairs. John Thornton had asked me to be a member of the Governing Board of the AIP, so I got up there after that. 

But that issue, the decision to hire the Meetings Manager, I think was the main enduring activity that I think has influenced the direction of the society.

WHETTEN: Yes, that's certainly one of the big changes in the office operation.

MADEY: We also initiated at that time an annual performance review. I don't know if that still goes on or not.

WHETTEN: Oh yes,.

MADEY: Okay. That was actually a rather painful process the first time we did it. That was not widely appreciated by the people whose performance was being reviewed. [Laughter]

WHETTEN: I can understand that. I never really enjoyed the ones I was subjected to. One part of my career I'd just as soon forget about the second time through. [Laughter]
Were there any other activities that you can think of?

MADEY: Yes, there are just two that I would want to mention. One has to do with - I had taken a special interest in building interactions with Central and South America. I had been involved a little bit with IUVSTA [International Union for Vacuum Science, Technique and Applications] up to that point and recognized that, in this entire western hemisphere, there were only two members of IUVSTA: the U.S. and Brazil. All of the other, then 23, members were in Europe or Asia, and so I thought it was an important thing for the AVS to do, to try to build bridges. And I set out on an activity that took up a lot of time and effort that came to absolutely nothing. I tried to establish a mailing list of people who spoke Spanish and Portuguese - people from the AVS who were able to lecture in Spanish or Portuguese. The idea was to send this information to these countries in Central and South America, hoping that they would take the bait and invite these people down and build nice, close relations. And it was a problem identifying people and getting them to provide information and write abstracts and what have you. I got this thing together and sent it off to as many places as I could in Central and South America and heard absolutely nothing. None - zero response. And I learned afterwards that most people seemed to feel that the most important thing about trying to build these bridges is just to send the best people. They don't care whether they can speak Spanish or Portuguese because they're going to be interacting with the scientists, most of whom speak English.

WHETTEN: Well, I guess you did, too, but I went to Brazil. That's exactly right. I mean, the people from the U.S. who went down gave classes, gave short courses in English. That was not a problem.

MADEY: No, absolutely none. I think at the entry level...

WHETTEN: Larry Kazmerski was there when I was there. He used to make his slides all in Portuguese, which was a nice gesture. It was appreciated pretty well.

MADEY: It really wasn't necessary, but nice. No, that was certainly one aspect of those interactions that didn't work out well, but I think that in the beginnings of those times, we did have considerable interactions with people in Mexico, as well as in Central and South America. And like you and like Jim, I spent a time in Brazil, too, which was a very pleasant and fruitful time. But I think this is evolved now into the Foreign Interactions Committee, which there are very strong couplings with Mexico and Brazil and other Latin American countries. Yes, these interactions of a bilateral nature - the AVS also has been a major player in the IUVSTA.

WHETTEN: You've been a major player in that. We'll get to that in a moment.

MADEY: Okay. But I do want to point out that during my presidency, there was also one activity that was stopped, and that was the President's address. Every year there had been a tradition that the President, at the Annual Symposium, would give an address. And I guess most of us actually wrote a paper4, and this is a copy (I don't know whether you can see that, Jim [holds up copy of the article from the Journal of Vacuum Science and Technology]) of my President's address. Of over 200 papers I have published, I think this is the only one for which I've never received a reprint request! [Laughter] So that one just fell like a pebble into a large pond maybe, with no ripples at all. 

WHETTEN: So when you were through being President, most Presidents find that the day after their last December meeting, I think, suddenly the phone stops ringing and you tend to lose all connection with AVS for a while. [Laughter]

MADEY: For a while. [Laughter] Well, it didn't happen quite that way. The phone rang on a couple of occasions, and one call was from John Thornton asking me to be involved as a member of the Governing Board of the AIP [American Institute of Physics]. I guess the AVS at that time was entitled to at least two representatives. And then I was also asked by the Governing Board to be a member of the Executive Committee, and so that was rather interesting, being inside AIP affairs, so to speak, at a rather challenging time, lots of discussions about the future. Then there were the beginnings of the discussions about whether or not they should expand in New York, relocate in New York, or move elsewhere. Ultimately of course, that has resulted in the relocation to Maryland that has now taken place. 

But also at about the same time, I had been active in the IUVSTA, I had been appointed the AVS representative to the Surface Science Division of IUVSTA, and shortly before '83, Len Beavis asked if I'd be willing to serve as Program Chairman for the '86 International Vacuum Congress and International Conference on Solid Surfaces. It was up in Baltimore. Len himself, who was the Councillor to the IUVSTA at the time, was the General Chair, and I was the Program Chair. Also in '83, I was appointed to be the Alternate Counselor on behalf of the AVS. 

Incidentally, and I don't know whether you remember, and maybe Jim remembers this event, the thing that stimulated the installation of Alternate Councillors was, I think in part, an AVS matter in that Mourice Francombe had been the Councillor from '80 to '83 and he resigned during the course of his office. So in effect, the AVS was unrepresented because there was no formal Alternate Councillor, so this procedure was initiated in a later time and that's turned out to be quite beneficial I think to the IUVSTA.

WHETTEN: I'd not heard that.

MADEY: But in '86, then, the conference was held in Baltimore, which was really quite a nice meeting. I think that was notable for the fine location and the fact that everything seemed to go so smoothly. One notable aspect of it from an organizational point of view; it represented the first time that an AVS meeting, which was joint with the International Vacuum Congress, had an international program committee. The IUVSTA, in establishing this conference and in establishing the organization of the Congress, had mandated that the program committee be comprised of both international individuals from the various technical divisions of the IUVSTA as well as members from the host country. And in the AVS's case, that meant that the AVS had to share responsibility with the International Union for the organization of the meeting, and I think it went very, very smoothly. There seemed to be no real difficulties associated with that.

WHETTEN: Yes, I remember it very well. I was Treasurer of AVS at the time, and I remember I was quite concerned about the expenses of some - I mean, it made a huge addition to our regular meeting, including a huge addition to JVST. So we raised some prices and to our amazement, I think we did not publish as many pages as we had predicted, by quite a lot, even though the conference was large, which gave us, in effect, a rather huge amount of money that we hadn't anticipated. So we split that, as I recall, with IUVSTA, and that's really the main sum of money they have available. It's been added on to, to some extent. 

MADEY: It's been added to since, but that was an enormous benefit to the IUVSTA. I remember a little bit about how that came to pass. After having received all of the abstracts, when the abstracts were submitted, each person was required to check off whether they intended to submit an extended abstract or a full paper. And I had gone through all of those abstracts, and on the basis of where the checks were, I had estimated the number of pages that would be required. And we came in way under that, and so I guess it just goes to show that you cannot believe what people are going to tell you about what they intend to write months later. But it was a tremendous benefit to us.

WHETTEN: Financially, it's better to have it that way than the opposite way, [laughter], losing a few hundred thousand dollars.

MADEY: I guess the other noteworthy thing about that meeting as far as the IUVSTA was concerned was the fact that it introduced the IUVSTA to the computer program that the AVS uses for the abstract cataloguing and the abstract selection process. And I believe that ever since then, the AVS has cooperated fully with the IUVSTA in providing updated versions of that program, which have been really extremely important in subsequent activities.

WHETTEN: Yes, and this year we've made some major improvements to that, and for this meeting, accepting abstracts by e-mail and having them automatically go into the printer untouched by human hands and so on. I gather Phil Woodruff is looking at that for the Manchester [International Vacuum] Congress.

MADEY: I'm sure he is. 

WHETTEN: So did you immediately get involved, then, with IUVSTA activities?

MADEY: Well, I think during the year before the international conference in Baltimore, I had been approached by the then President-elect asking if I'd be willing to serve as Secretary General. And I had to think a bit about this; the Secretary General's position is the chief administrative officer of the International Union, as opposed to the President, who is the chief executive officer. And I solicited the permission of my employer, the Bureau of Standards, and they agreed to support the activity to the extent that it would provide secretarial assistance and allow me whatever release time necessary. So that turned out to be quite a satisfying event. I enjoyed thoroughly my interactions with the Union, getting to know the people and being able to serve in that way. 

In thinking back about that period, there was one particularly interesting event that turned out quite happily, but it had some international implications that could have been rather unpleasant. In 1986, a decision was made to send the 1992 International Vacuum Conference to Brazil. This would have been the first time that the Congress would have been held south of the equator, the first time it would have been held in the western hemisphere other than in the United States. The choice of 1992 is particularly symbolic because that's the 500th anniversary of the discovery of the Americas by Columbus, and so the Brazilians were quite proud that the Congress was going there. But it became evident, as we went through 1987 and into 1988, that the organization was not going well, and there seemed to be some dispute with...

WHETTEN: The organization in Brazil.

MADEY: ...in Brazil, yes, and the organization of the Congress itself - the plans for the Congress. And in late '88 or early '89 (I have forgotten precisely when), after some phone calls between north and south, we encouraged the Brazilians to dis-invite themselves, or dis-invite IUVSTA. That allowed us then to go on with preparing an alternative plan, and so the Brazilians very gracefully and gratefully - well, we were very grateful that they were willing to accept the fact that they didn't have the wherewithal to organize the conference, and they backed out at that stage. The Dutch, the people in the Netherlands, who received the second largest number of votes in this competition in '86, then fortunately agreed to take on the responsibility, and they organized a first-rate International Vacuum Congress in 1992 in the Netherlands. So I would say that that particular event was the one thing that colored the whole term in terms of activities that impacted the future of the Union.

WHETTEN: So then, after Secretary General, I think I know what happened. Go ahead. [Laughter]

MADEY: After Secretary General, I was nominated - I think it's something that you did through the AVS, and thank you very much, Rey - to be President-elect, and then I was elected by the Executive Council to be the candidate of the Executive Council. Then that was confirmed at the General Meeting. I guess that actually I was confirmed in 1989, which was when I was President-elect, and so from '89 to '92, I served in that capacity. And I have to say that after serving as Secretary General, which is right in the heart of the activities of the Union, being the President-elect is a bit of a downer. There's relatively little to do; you're expected to be an understudy to the President and learn the ropes. Well, in my capacity as Secretary General, I had been a lot busier I think than most of the Presidents-elect have been before or have been since. So in a sense, it was a bit of a respite before assuming the presidency. 

WHETTEN: And then you automatically became President?

MADEY: Yes, then I automatically became President in 1992 in the Netherlands at the conference in the Hague, and things I think went very well over the three-year period of the term. There were no major upheavals. I think the main things that we did were to preside over the expansion of a program whereby we were sponsoring, in addition to the International Vacuum Congress, a series of technical workshops. And in that triennium, we organized some six or seven technical workshops on a variety of topics. These have come to be called the IUVSTA workshops, and they've been very successful and highly recognized as making substantial contributions to the community. 

We've also expanded some aspects of the education program, and of course, the International Vacuum Congress that was held in 1995 in Yokahama, Japan. Like all others, it was the best - not the best necessarily, but certainly the biggest!

WHETTEN: Well, you were in charge. Now you're Past-President.

MADEY: Now I'm serving as Past-President.

WHETTEN: Is that like dropping off the log?

MADEY: It's very much so. Again, during the last year of my presidency, I started using electronic mail on a regular basis, and in the last six months of my term, I got something like 180 to 200 messages that were related to IUVSTA affairs. Well, that rapidly dropped from 40 or 50 a month to three or four a month, so I'm very much out of the circle now, but still just phasing out.

WHETTEN: Well, I have to say that I think Ted set an amazing example as President and previously as Secretary General. Every time I would him in Europe, they would have usually two IUVSTA Executive Committee meetings a year. Every time you'd see him, we'd be asking, "Is he going back to New Jersey?" But, no, he was going to go on to Poland and Czechoslovakia and Hungary and give a couple of talks and meet the Physics Department, and just a tremendous outreach. I really admire that. I think you did a super job in that respect.

MADEY: Well, thank you very much, Rey.

WHETTEN: Anything you want to say about AVS or to young people joining AVS?

MADEY: Oh goodness, I would say that I think that the AVS has been a remarkable organization from my point of view. I think it's been an extremely positive influence on my own career, and it's been a positive influence on the career of many of my colleagues. I've been encouraging my students to participate in AVS meetings, and without putting down other major societies, I would say that my students have gone to several other of our major competitors, and they invariably come back to tell me that they enjoy the AVS most. I think the thing that appeals to them is the fact that there's a broad interdisciplinary character to our program - that we have the fundamental physics and chemistry, but we also have the applied physics and chemistry and engineering that is so nicely discussed at our meeting. There's the opportunity to participate in the technical exhibitions as well, and this particular year, four of my students are taking short courses. So, I think that there are so many aspects of the AVS that are beneficial to young people. I encourage as many as possible to participate.

WHETTEN: Well, thank you, Ted.

1. Roberts, R. W. and Vanderslice, T. A., "Ultrahigh Vacuum and its Applications", (Prentice-Hall, New Jersey, 1963)
2. Rey Whetten was Program Chair for the National Symposium in 1972
3. For more details, see the Oral History interview with John Vossen by Dorothy Hoffman
4. T E Madey J. Vac. Sci. Technol. 20, 265 (1982); for a listing of all President's reports, see "History Publications" in the e-book "50 years of AVS" on the AVS web site.

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