Faculty Profile: Steven Louie
by Anna Goldstein
Professor Steven Louie has spent a lot of time on the UC Berkeley
campus. He graduated in 1972 with an undergraduate degree in physics and
mathematics and then earned his PhD in physics here in 1976. Following
postdoctoral appointments at IBM and Bell labs, he taught briefly at the
University of Pennsylvania before returning to UC Berkeley as a faculty
member in 1980. Today, he is a professor in the physics department and a
Senior Faculty Scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. He
also directs the Theory of Nanostructured Materials Facility at the
Molecular Foundry. I spoke with him recently about his research and his
impressions of UC Berkeley over the years.
research focuses on nanomaterials and their physical properties. Why
should people outside of physics be interested in nanomaterials?
As you go from macroscale to microscale to nanoscale, the behavior
of matter changes. For example, objects give out light of a certain
color, but if you give the material a smaller and smaller diameter, you
change the frequency, or color, of the light that comes out. This means
that you can tune the properties of the material by just changing its
size. In terms of fundamental science, many interesting phenomena occur
in nanostructures that help us understand nature. At the same time,
because properties change at the nanoscale, there are many applications
for nanostructure research. Look at the electronics industry, where you
try to make things smaller and smaller in order to pack more transistors
and other devices into a given chip. If making the device smaller
causes its properties to change dramatically, then you have to
understand how the device behaves in these new dimensions.
What do you see in the future of nanoscience?
The future of nanoscience is very exciting. There's a lot of promise
in terms of new discovery and new applications. In the field of energy
research, for example, a lot of studies are trying to develop new
nanostructure–based photovoltaic devices that might function better than
standard solar cells. They might also be cheaper to make, because
making nanostructures might becheaper than growing pure silicon crystals
for solar cells.
Entire article: http://sciencereview.berkeley.edu/articleex.php?issue=18&article=university_profile.