ASSD - Meet an ASSD Member

Advancing the Science and Technology of Materials, Interfaces, and Processing

John Grant

I am a surface scientist, using mainly Auger Electron Spectroscopy (AES) and X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy (XPS) for research and problem solving. I started my work in Australia where I obtained my degrees, then spent two years in basic research in the USA followed by two years in industrial research and development in The Netherlands, before returning permanently to the USA. In the early days we built our own electron energy analyzer (a double-pass cylindrical mirror analyzer) for AES and it worked very well. The late 1960s and early 1970s were exciting times for AES where we were discovering many things about it, including the establishment of an atlas of Auger spectra of the elements, assigning transitions to observed peaks, understanding chemical effects on spectra (both energy shifts and lineshape changes), and even the production of Auger spectra using low energy ions that were typically used for sputter depth profiling. The Auger spectra from ions were quite different from those produced by electrons, and it took me some months to work out why they were so different. I began using XPS in the early 1970s although the first commercial equipment that I used was not suitable for the task (to study pure Ti and its oxides) due to its poor vacuum. The company that made that instrument soon quit the field! For most of my career, I worked with one or two colleagues in a research laboratory. I have worked with all kinds of materials, including metals, semiconductors, ceramics, polymers and nanomaterials. I really enjoyed my work and loved to receive challenging problems. I retired from full-time work in 2014, and now work part time as a surface analysis consultant.

I attended my first AVS Symposium (the 16th National Symposium) in Seattle in 1969 where I had the honor of giving the first contributed talk in the first session of the newly formed Surface Science Division. My talk was on “Auger Studies of (111) Silicon Surfaces” where there was controversy over the origin of its 7x7 surface structure. I built an in-situ device for cleaving Si and for later annealing the cleaved surface to obtain the 7x7 structure, and by comparing the Auger spectra I concluded that the 7x7 structure was not impurity based as had been proposed by others.

I was also active in the E-42 Committee on Surface Analysis of the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM), serving as Chair of the AES subcommittee from 1980 to 1993. The E-42 Committee had sponsored joint technical sessions at AVS symposia for several years, and was instrumental in the formation of the AVS Applied Surface Science Division in 1985. I helped establish its Student Award and was its committee’s first Chair with the first award being given in 1987. I chaired the ASSD in 1989, and I was honored to be named an AVS Fellow in 1994. I was also honored to receive the AVS Albert Nerken Award in 2000 “For pioneering research and development of the technique of Auger Electron Spectroscopy to study surface composition and chemistry."

Walt Haas and I established the annual Symposium on Applied Surface Analysis at the University of Dayton in 1979. It was established to provide a forum where applied work could be presented and discussed. There was a need for this as most conferences allowed only basic research work to be presented. Soon after the AVS ASSD was formed I suggested that they should organize the Symposium in the future. They agreed, and the Symposium series continues today. It is also an ideal place for new surface analysts to meet their peers as there are no parallel sessions.

I started teaching short courses on surface analysis for the AVS in 1985 and continued that through 2006. After that, I started my own, more comprehensive, 5-day short course series that I still enjoy teaching once per year. I also teach short courses on behalf of the International Union for Vacuum Science, Technique and Applications (IUVSTA) of which AVS is a member society. I really enjoy passing my knowledge on to the next generation of surface scientists and I get great satisfaction when an attendee says “Now I understand that!”

I served on the IUVSTA’s ASSD committee for many years representing the AVS, and was the committee Chair from 1998-2001. Later, I served as IUVSTA Treasurer from 2004-2010. I was honored to receive the IUVTA Prize for Technology in 2013.

I have been involved in journal editing for a long time and served as North American Editor of Surface and Interface Analysis from 1986-2015. I also co-edited a book with Dave Briggs in 2003 entitled “Surface Analysis by Auger and X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy.”

On a personal note, I love to hike and travel, and to spend time with my family.