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The interaction of gases with surfaces of solids is briefly reviewed, and some techniques for the study of surface phenomena are outlined. A review is presented of the present state of our understanding of electrical breakdown in vacuum, and some criteria for the best utilization of the insulating properties of vacuum are discussed. Finally, the specific problems of a few devices and components in relation to vacuum are discussed. The devices are particle accelerators, electrostatic generators, vacuum switches, plasma containers, bearings, and transmission lines.