Emile Thomas


It is with great regret that we announce the death of Professor Emile Thomas on January 14 2001 at the age of 93 years. Professor Thomas was an Honorary President of IUVSTA. He was born in Brussels, Belgium on 2 April 1907, graduated as an engineer from the Ecole Royale Militaire (ERM) in 1930, and became a professor of this institution where he conducted research in solid state physics up to 1940. After the Second World War, he worked in the area of nuclear physics and vacuum science and technology, leading a project on the construction of a high energy ion source for the ERM proton beam accelerator. He gained a PhD degree for work on this subject from the Université Libre de Bruxelles in 1952.


In 1958, in conjunction with the ’58 World Exhibit in Brussels, he organised the 1st International Congress in Vacuum Science and Technology in Namur, and it was at this meeting that participants established the International Organisation for Vacuum Science, Techniques and Applications (IOVST), with Professor Thomas being its President. In 1982 this Organisation became IUVSTA, and the Belgian Vacuum Society (BELVAC) was founded. During the following years Professor Thomas studied pumping systems, vacuum measurements, vacuum terminology and metrology. He was the official delegate of the Belgian Institute for Standards to the TC112 and ISO working groups, and published widely in the field of vacuum science and technology.


The 10th General Meeting of IUVSTA held in Köln in Germany on 27th September 1989 agreed unanimously to confer on Professor Thomas an Honorary Presidency of the Union in recognition of his leading role in the formation and early development of IUVSTA, serving as President of IOVST (1959-1962) and as Vice-President (1962-1965) and Secretary-General (1962-1974) of the Union. The document referring to the Honorary Presidency was formally presented to Professor Thomas in Brussels on 18th December 1989 by Professor Jarheiss (President, 1986-89) at a ceremony in the presence of Dr. A.Venema, IUVSTA President 1974-77, and Mr.José Dupont who represented BELVAC.