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The best way to find out what someone wants is to ask. In surveys, we asked readers about the tools they use in their research, what they like, what they don’t like, and improvements they would like to see. Then, we asked the companies that develop these tools to describe what they offer, and what they are doing to meet market demands.

Three of the top tools of choice were software, vacuum systems, and spectrometers. In this issue, we are covering these three diverse technologies for use in R&D labs, in three different ways.

In the cover story, Senior Editor Paul Livingstone discusses with vacuum system vendors trends in high vacuum system technology. The challenges: Meeting the varying needs of different R&D applications and then building systems that can be maintained by non-experts. The results: Vacuum pump manufacturers are adopting a systems approach and the instruments themselves are changing to address size, functionality, maintenance, and cost considerations. Read vendor opinions on market demands and how they are developing products to meet these needs.

In this issue, we introduce a new editorial feature, a Specifications Guide designed to detail the features, functions—and specifications—of a class of instruments. We look at mass, infrared, UV-Vis, and X-ray spectrometers from a range of manufacturers. We introduce each technology with a brief overview, followed by detailed specifications of individual models in tabular format for side-by-side comparisons.

Software was most popular tool identified by our readers, in particular modeling, simulation, and physics programs to explore multiple design options. In the issue, we profile software tools, including applications and hardware/software requirements. An applications note describes how structural sizing and composite analysis software was used to predict the performance of a vehicle under simulated flight conditions.

Seeking the Best in R&D Research
The editors of R&D magazine have another question: Do you know a scientist or researcher worthy of recognition as R&D's 2010 Scientist of the Year, Innovator of the Year, and Young Innovator of the Year? The deadline for nominations is July 16, 2010.

The Scientist of the Year must have demonstrated leadership in a fundamental scientific discovery within the past five years. This discovery could be in any science field and must have relevance to the general population. The Scientist of the Year must currently be active in scientific research and development.

The Innovator of the Year must have demonstrated leadership in the development of a product or products in his/her organization within the past five years. The products must be readily identified as innovative—not evolutionary, trivial, or obvious.

To qualify for the Young Innovator of the Year, a candidate must not have reached age 31 by December 31, 2010. They must have demonstrated leadership in the development of an innovative product or research project within the last year in an academic, professional, or government setting.

A complete description of qualifications and application forms can be found under the Awards menu on

Published in R & D magazine: Vol. 52, No. 2, April, 2010, p.6.