David Wittry’s Recollections of the Early History of our Society

David B. Wittry
Department of Materials Science and Engineering
University of Southern California
Los Angeles, CA 90089

In the early history of the Microbeam Analysis Society, we can recognize numerous familiar names. Many of the researchers who made their mark in this field are recognized as being active in our field and our society even today. In many respects, the early days of electron probe X-ray microanalysis seemed particularly exciting and challenging because there were so many unanswered questions. Questions such as: What is the best takeoff angle for the X-rays? What is the best type of X-ray spectrometer to use? Or, what is the best way to do quantitative analysis? Some of these questions were thoroughly addressed years ago; others may never be resolved completely. The unresolved questions and the emergence of a myriad of new techniques keep our society vital by continually attracting new workers to actively pursue better approaches.

The origin of the Microbeam Analysis Society dates back to 1951 when Castaing published his now famous thesis on “Microanalysis by Means of Electron Probes.” Shortly after this, work began in several laboratories to develop instruments for electron probe X-ray microanalysis. This included work at the Naval Research Laboratory by Birks and Brooks, at MIT by Ogilvie and Macres, at Batelle Memorial Institute by Austin and Schwartz, at U.S. Steel by Fisher and Lewis, at the U.S. Geological Survey by Adler, at Caltech by Wittry, Duwez and Dumond, at Cambridge University by Duncumb and Cosslett and by Long, and at Associated Electrical Industries by Mulvey and Archard.

Just before, and during the 1960’s, many commercial electron probe instruments appeared on the market, including instruments manufactured by Cameca, Philips Electronic Instruments, Cambridge Instruments, Advanced Metals Research, Applied Research Laboratories, Elion Instruments, Materials Analysis Company, Hitachi, and JEOL. The appearance of commercial instruments in the late 1950’s and early 1960’s spurred the interest in this new field and led to the organization of several national conferences.

The first noteworthy conference involving electron probe microanalysis was a symposium sponsored by ASTM and held in Atlantic City in 1963. Other meetings, for example, the Denver X-ray Conference, and the meetings of the Society for Applied Spectroscopy had special sessions devoted to this subject. The early workers who presented papers at these conferences referred to them as the “traveling road show.” There was a spirit of evangelism about this new technique for materials characterization, much like the one now associated with our meetings having sessions on scanned probe microscopies. There were many heated discussions and members of the audience were not reticent to confront any and all speakers with whom they did not agree.

The earliest and one of the memorable conferences on electron probe microanalysis was sponsored by the Electrochemical Society and held in Washington, DC, October 12-15, 1964. Ted McKinley of Dupont, who was active in ECS, was responsible for getting Kurt Heinrich and I involved in this conference; this resulted in three of us serving as co-chairs and editors for the conference proceedings. I still remember my anxiety on serving as a chairman of the session when Kurt was a speaker: What should I do when my distinguished colleague exceeded his allotted time? Novice session chairs will be relieved to know that after I finally mustered the courage to cut off the speaker, he told me that I should have done it sooner!

The Washington conference, because of the excellent papers presented and the extensive volume of proceedings published by Wiley, has sometimes become known as the Zeroth National Conference of the society later to be known as the Microbeam Analysis Society.

After the meeting in Washington, a group of interested people met to discuss how national conferences on electron probe microanalysis could be continued. Present at the meeting were Izzy Adler, Joe Goldstein, John Colby, Kurt Heinrich, Tass Tousimis, Norm Weston, Dave Wittry, Vic Macres, Gudrin Hutchins, Don Vieth, Jim Brown, Art Chodos, Chuck Nealy, Peter Duncumb and Harvey Yakowitz. A memo circulated after the meeting described the discussions and the appointment of a committee to distribute a questionnaire to the attendees of the Washington meeting. The committee consisted of: Vic Macres, Art Chodos, John Colby, Tass Tousimis, Jim Brown, and Harvey Yakowitz.

The First National Conference was sponsored by a group in the Washington area organized by Tass Tousimis and was held in College Park, Maryland, May 4-7, 1966. During this meeting, a “steering committee” consisting of Verne Birks, Klaus Keil, Bill Marton, Tass Tousimis, Dave Wittry, and Tom Ziebold met on May 6 to discuss further the possibilities of forming a national society. Bill Marton as elected chairman of the steering committee and Dave Wittry was elected recording secretary (a circumstance that is largely responsible for much of the information presented in this report). At this meeting, Norm Weston and Larry Vassamillet were elected as additional members of the committee and Paul Lublin was elected as an alternate members. (Bill Campbell subsequently joined the committee.) Bob Ogilvie was nominated as chairman of the Second National Conference to be held in Boston, Massachusetts.

Bill Marton invited the steering committee to attend a meeting on December 10, 1966, at the Cosmos Club in Washington. Present at this meeting were: Verne Birks, Bill Campbell, Bill Marton, Tass Tousimis, Norm Weston, Dave Wittry, Tom Ziebold, Paul Lublin, Bob Ogilvie, Kurt Heinrich, and Harvey Yakowitz. At this meeting and in subsequent correspondence the major points for discussion included a name for the new society, a proposed constitution and bylaws, whether proceedings should be published, and possible affiliation with other societies, for example the Society for Applied Spectroscopy, the Electron Microscopy Society of America or the American Institute of Physics. Suggested names for the new society included the following: Electron Probe Microanalysis Society of America, Electron Probe Analysis Society of America, American Electron Microprobe Society, and American Society for Electron Probe Microanalysis. Six votes were cast for the Electron Probe Analysis Society of America (EPASA) which became the name of the new society until 1974 when the name was changed to the Microbeam Analysis Society (MAS).

On June 13, 1967, a meeting of the steering committee was held in Prof. Ogilvie’s room at the Sommerset Hotel in Boston to prepare material for presentation to the attendees of the Second National Conference in Boston. This meeting was attended by Paul Lublin, Bill Marton, Bob Ogilvie, Tass Tousimis, Larry Vasamillet, Dave Wittry, and Tom Ziebold. A nominating committee consisting of I. Adler (chair), D. Birk, G. Arrhenius, T. Schreiber, and J. Shapirio was selected to propose a slate of candidates for office in the society. At the business meeting held during the conference the proposed constitution and bylaws, which were published in the proceedings, were discussed. Also, the nominating committee was approved and the site of the next annual conference was discussed. The final meeting of the steering committee was held June 16 in the restaurant of the hotel and was attended by Izzy Adler, Verne Birks, Kurt Heinrich, Paul Lublin, Bill Marton, Bob Ogilvie, Tass Tousimis, Larry Vassamillet, Norm Weston, Dave Wittry, and Tom Ziebold. At this meeting a majority vote decided the site of the Third National Conference (Chicago) and the general chairman of the conference (J.V. Smith).

The Articles of Incorporation of the Electron Probe Analysis Society of America were filed on May 21, 1968, through the efforts of Paul Lublin who served as the chairman of the legal committee. The first officers of the society were L.S. Birks, President, K.F.J. Heinrich, President-Elect, T.O. Ziebold, Secretary and A.A. Chodos, Treasurer. Council members were H. Yakowitz, C.A. Andersen and S.H. Moll. A complete listing of all MAS officers and individuals receiving MAS awards is provided elsewhere in this volume to acknowledge the contributions of those largely responsible for the sustenance of the organization.

By the time of the Third National Conference, held in Chicago in 1968, the Society was in full operation. Since then, National Conferences have been held every year under the auspices of the society. The proceedings of the early conferences are now collector’s items. They were spiral bound until 1979 when Dave Kyser made arrangements with San Francisco Press to publish hard bound volumes of the proceedings. List of annual national meetings and paper awards are provided subsequently in this volume to further commemorate the early history and subsequent expansion of the society’s scientific mission.

The early national meetings were dominated by topics related to electron probe microanalysis, including new techniques and instrumentation, possibilities for combined electron microscopes and microprobes, quantitative analysis, and applications in metallurgy, geology, and biology. The total number of papers presented at the early meetings averaged about 60. Already by the Third Conference in 1968, the focus began to broaden to include other microanalytical techniques with separate technical sessions held on the ion microprobe, scanning electron miscoscopy, and soft X-ray emission and microanalysis. By the early 1970’s, topics related to probe automation and energy dispersive X-ray microanalysis (EDS) techniques came to the fore reflecting the initial phase of the revolution in computer and electronics hardware capabilities.

By the mid-1970’s, the scientific scope of the society continued to broaden with contributions at the national meetings devoted to the emerging tools for surface analysis (scanning Auger microprobe, secondary ion mass spectrometry, ion scattering spectroscopy), analytical transmission electron microscopy, electron energy loss spectroscopy, and ion induced X-ray emission using MeV ion beams. Of special significance was the joint meeting held with the Eighth International Conference on X-ray Optics and Microanalysis (ICXOM) in Boston in 1977, which attracted over 20 papers. In the years following, the national meetings attracted additional pioneering contributions involving a variety of emergent techniques. For example, the 1978 meeting contained reports on developments in laser based microanalysis, including both laser microprobe mass spectrometry and laser Raman microprobe instrumentation. Organic surface analysis using SIMS and electron beam induced current (EBIC) for studies of semiconductors were discussed, and a workshop devoted to cryogenic sample preparation was presented.

Starting in the early 1980’s, computational techniques received an increasing emphasis, such as Monte Carlo calculations of beam/specimen interactions, and the use of digital image acquisition and processing techniques. In more recent years, important advances in optical techniques such as infrared microanalysis and near field optical imaging have been announced at the meetings. At the last few national conferences, the breakthroughs in scanned probe microscopies have been incorporated in the scientific scope of the MAS sponsored sessions. The analysis component of the technical program of the annual Microscopy and Microanalysis Conference and the MAS-sponsored topical conferences initiated in 1996 reflect a continuing interest in X-ray microanalysis techniques, combined with an ever widening scope of microanalytical techniques and their practical applications.