ASSD - Meet an ASSD Member

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

Vincent (Vin, Vince) Smentkowski

Vincent SmentkowskiI am a surface chemist/analyst and I have been working in the characterization organization at the General Electric Global Research Center (GE-GRC) in Niskayuna, NY since 1997. For the past 9 years, my emphasis has been on ToF-SIMS analysis. In 2010 I spent a significant amount of time using ToF-SIMS to analyze solar materials. ToF-SIMS has also proven to be a very valuable technique for MEMS, sensing, polymeric, biomedical, x-ray detector, battery, and alloy samples. I routinely find unexpected species/contaminants in the samples I analyze by ToF-SIMS. An important aspect of my work involves the use of multivariate statistical analysis (MVSA) tools in order to perform a rapid, unbiased, and complete analysis of the full ToF-SIMS data sets. MVSA algorithms allow for the identification of species association in complex multiphase materials. In addition to ToF-SIMS, I am also constructing a high temperature desorption apparatus. I am also working with external laboratories in order to evaluate advanced microstructural characterization techniques such as Atom Probe Tomography and Helium Ion Microscopy and show the benefits these techniques have for GE materials. When I first arrived at GE, I performed AES, XPS, SEM, and EBSD analysis while making the case to purchase our first ToF-SIMS instrument. At GE, I have also designed novel instrumentation/protocol to support various GE businesses. Since I work in an industrial characterization laboratory, I can not say much about the GE materials, however I am able to talk about, publish, and present novel data analysis protocol. I have co-authored 77 external papers, 75 internal GE reports and I hold 6 US patents. I have also presented numerous contributed and invited talks. In 2010 I was named a fellow of AVS for "For exceptional contributions in the field of industrial surface analysis, including multivariate statistical analysis of ToF-SIMS data".
Before arriving at GE, I held a post-doc position at Argonne National Laboratories where I was part of a team that designed and built ion scattering instrumentation in order to perform in-situ, real-time, surface analysis of thin films during deposition at mTorr pressures; a project which resulted in a 1997 R&D100 Award. I obtained my Ph.D. in physical chemistry under the guidance of Prof. John T. Yates, Jr., the title of my thesis was "Surface Science Investigation of Tribologically Important Systems - Iron and Diamond".
I have been a member of AVS since graduate school. During my early career, I associated myself mostly with the Surface Science Division and the Vacuum Science Divisions, however as my work started to become more applied, I rapidly became more involved in the Applied Surface Science Division (ASSD). The diversity of topics covered by AVS enables transitions between divisions. I know many people that are associated with multiple divisions.
An important aspect of ASSD is that the community works as a team to help each other. People working as an analyst in an industrial setting do not have many (if any) colleagues which know as much about an analytical technique as they do. For new hires, especially for those starting right out of school, this is a drastic change since in an academic setting they have many colleagues they can talk to about a technique including their research advisor. Being involved in ASSD increases the number of people who understand techniques - and you can "bounce" ideas off of them. The AVS annual symposium and exhibition is a key part of my professional development. The meeting gives me an opportunity to have candid discussions with others working in various fields of science and technology. Many of my successful scientific collaborations (including the collaboration I have in place with Sandia National Laboratories in order to perform MVSA of ToF-SIMS data sets) originated from discussions at past AVS International Symposia.
I am the 2011 chair of the ASSD and I am a co-chair of the upcoming Surface Analysis 2011 meeting which will take place in Albany NY April 11-13, 2011. I also served as the founding chair of the Hudson Mohawk Chapter of AVS (2009-2010). I have also been a co-chair of the past 3 bi-annual surface symposia at the annual Microscopy and Microanalysis meetings (2006, 2008, and 2010).
Many AVS researchers mentored me during my professional development, I encourage everyone (especially students and post-docs that are entering the workplace) to seek a senior AVS member which can serve as your mentor. I look forward to serving as the ASSD chair in 2011 and continuing to mentor the next generation of AVS'ers.
Outside of work, I enjoy custom woodworking, spending time outdoors, and vacationing with my family. I have two daughters ages 6 and 10 - both are figure skaters hence my wife and I spend 4 or more nights a week at local ice skating rinks. Over the past few years, I have been learning the science behind figure skate sharpening and last year I purchased equipment to sharpen figure skates and was trained in the use of the equipment. I now sharpen a few pair of skates/week. In 2011, I will be chairing the Albany Figure Skating Club's USFS Competition.


Vincent Smentkowski
Surface Analyst/Chemist
Chemical Technologies & Materials Characterization
T +1 518 387 5467