ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — The American Vacuum Society has recognized Sandia National Laboratories technologist Michael F. Lopez with its Thin Film Division Distinguished Technologist Award for his exceptional technical support of thin film research and development.
The society’s Thin Film Division presented the award to Lopez at the society’s recent International Symposium & Exhibition in Nashville, Tennessee. The inaugural Distinguished Technologist Award in 2015 also went to a Sandia technologist, Catherine Sobczak.
Lopez said he was shocked, surprised “and, of course, very excited” when he received a phone call telling him he’d been chosen for the national award.
He said he believes he was recognized because of his longevity, more than 25 years, in the field of thin film and vacuum technology rather than for a specific achievement. “I’ve seen the technology evolve, I’ve seen the advancements and I’ve helped in many aspects of thin film technology over the years,” he said.
Lopez’s work largely involves physical vapor deposition, or PVD Coating, a variety of thin film deposition in which solid metal is vaporized in a high vacuum environment and deposited on electrically conductive materials as a pure metal or alloy coating. The process transfers the coating material on a single atom or molecule level, providing extremely pure and high performance coatings, which is preferable to electroplating for many applications.
Lopez praised Sandia for encouraging staff members to participate in professional societies and for fostering interactions with colleagues inside and outside of the labs.
David Goy of Sandia’s Neutron Generators Operations Management department, who nominated Lopez for the award, said Lopez is more than willing to share his expertise with others.
“He’s helped our production operators, other technologists, and engineers learn about thin film, residual gas analysis, vacuum technology, and leak detection, using a very hands-on approach,” Goy said. “Mike is a leader in our center.”
Lopez joined Sandia in 1994 and was promoted to distinguished technologist 10 years later. He has been a major contributor in the design, layout, fabrication, installation and check-out of high vacuum equipment used to manufacture neutron tubes and switch tubes for generators.
He holds an associate’s degree from Central New Mexico Community College and is co-author or contributing author on several Sandia papers. In addition, earlier this year he helped develop an American Vacuum Society (AVS) short course called “Working with Tritium.”
The New Mexico Chapter of AVS created and endowed the national award to honor its founders and their contributions. AVS, founded in 1953, supports networking among government, industrial, academic, and consulting professionals in a variety of disciplines, including engineering, chemistry, physics, biology, mathematics and business through common interests related to the basic science, technology, development and commercialization of materials, interfacing and processing. It has about 4,500 members worldwide.
Sandia National Laboratories is a multi-mission laboratory operated by Sandia Corporation, a wholly owned subsidiary of Lockheed Martin Corp., for the U.S. Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration. With main facilities in Albuquerque, N.M., and Livermore, Calif., Sandia has major R&D responsibilities in national security, energy and environmental technologies and economic competitiveness.
Sandia news media contact: Sue Holmes, firstname.lastname@example.org, (505) 844-6362