Awards > Awardee Interviews > Interview

Interview: J. E. (Jack) Rowe

2011 Albert Nerken Award Recipient
Interviewed by Paul Holloway, November 3, 2011

HOLLOWAY: I’m Paul Holloway. I’m a member of the AVS History Committee. Today is Thursday November 3, 2011. We’re at the 58th International Symposium of the AVS in Nashville, Tennessee. Today I have the privilege and pleasure of interviewing Dr. John E. Rowe, commonly known as Jack Rowe to virtually everybody in the Society, from North Carolina State University. He is the 2011 Albert Nerken Award winner. His citation reads, “For his fundamental role in the development of electron energy loss spectroscopy, photo emission and synchrotron radiation techniques and their application to surface and interface studies.” Jack, it’s a pleasure to have you here today, and thanks for agreeing to be interviewed. Could we start with you giving us your place and date of birth?

ROWE: Yes. I was born in Jacksonville, Florida on September 25, 1941. I grew up there and graduated from high school in 1959. Went off to Emory University with the idea of majoring both in chemistry and math, and ended up in my sophomore year deciding to major in physics. I graduated in 1963, but stayed at Emory because by then I had met and gotten engaged to my wife Susie, who was a nursing student, and she didn’t graduate until 1965.

HOLLOWAY: That was incentive for you to stay there. [Laughs]

ROWE: That’s right. So we stayed in the Atlanta area. I got a Master’s degree in Physics from Emory, and then we were married shortly after her graduation in June of 1965 and we moved on to Oakridge, Tennessee where I had a summer research appointment. And then in the fall of 1965 I went to Brown University where I studied under Manuel Cardona and Fred Pollock on optical properties of semiconductors. Although Brown had a lot of surface physics, I did not study surface physics then. I ended up going to Bell Laboratories after that experience and I wanted to change fields, and decided to go into surface physics. So I joined the active surface physics group at Bell Labs in 1970 and spent most of my career, nearly 26 years, there.

HOLLOWAY: Who was the head of that group?

ROWE: Homer Hagstrum, who had been very active in the AVS, was the head of that group. It took me about a year to get to my first AVS meeting, which was in 1971 in Boston, and that was a very enjoyable meeting. I believe that was actually one of the international meetings; it certainly had an international flavor to it, as the current meetings do, and I really enjoyed meeting a lot of the people there. That meeting was the first post-deadline Surface Science Division meeting that has continued until today, 40 years later.

HOLLOWAY: Yeah, that’s a tradition.

ROWE: That's right.

HOLLOWAY: It works better when the beer is there!

ROWE: That’s right. [Laughter] And it did then. I think they had a little extra travel money, so they were able to buy beer for that session. Bob Park, who had actually been a graduate from the same physics department that I did my Ph.D. in at Brown University, ran that session. And I’ve continued with the AVS through the present time; hope to continue for many years to come.

HOLLOWAY: We hope so, too. Let me go back to your Ph.D. research. You said you studied optical properties of semiconductors. What techniques did you use and what properties did you look at?

ROWE: I used optical reflectance, and in those days the group I was in did a lot with optical modulation spectroscopy, and some of the other graduate students and postdocs did studies of the semiconductor electrolyte interface with electrolyte electroreflectance. Actually in that group at that time there was a postdoc who was introduced to me as a very famous person from the University of Illinois, and I met him and he was only a little over two years older than I was, Dave Aspnes, who is a past president of AVS. He worked on electroreflectance, and he actually left the group and went to Bell Labs. I followed him a couple of years later, and we did some joint work together on electroreflectance as I was transitioning into surface physics.

HOLLOWAY: Jumping ahead a little bit, both of you went to North Carolina State.

ROWE: That’s right. So then I followed him to North Carolina State, too. It took me a little bit longer to get to North Carolina State than it did to get to Bell Labs, but we both ended up in the same institution a couple of times now in our careers.

HOLLOWAY: We’ll come back to that. In terms of the dissertation, what type of material were you looking at? Silicon?

ROWE: I wasn’t looking at silicon. I was looking mostly at 3-5 compound semiconductors and 2-6 compound semiconductors, and how their fundamental optical properties changed with uniaxial stress. The particular technique that was developed by myself and a fellow graduate student was called wavelength modulation spectroscopy. It didn’t require any external field like electroreflectance, or piezoreflectance or, magnetoreflectance.

HOLLOWAY: So you went on to Bell Labs. Let me ask one other question. Farnsworth was there at Brown, if I recall correctly. Did you interact with him at all?

ROWE: Farnsworth was in the last stages of his career, and I didn’t interact with him very much. Prof. Farnsworth did have a graduate student that was in my class, and he was I think Farnsworth’s last student. Farnsworth had his laboratories in an older building. When I started at Brown in the fall of 1965, physics and engineering were in a new building complex, and there were still some people moving in later during that year, and I think Farnsworth was close enough to retirement he never did move his group into that building. So he was in a building several blocks away, and was not coupled very strongly to the Physics Department then.

HOLLOWAY: Park was one of his graduate students, I believe.

ROWE: That’s right. Bob Park had graduated and left and was at Sandia National Labs when I was at Brown University.

HOLLOWAY: Okay, so you didn’t really overlap with him.

ROWE: So I didn’t really overlap with him. I met him through the AVS at that ’71 meeting. I think that was the first time that I met Bob.

HOLLOWAY: So you moved on to Bell Labs, then.

ROWE: I did. Not long after I was at Bell Labs, they hired another young person, Charlie Tracy, who had done his thesis in surface physics. And since we were the same age, we interacted a lot socially. He was the one that had urged me after the 1970 AVS meeting to go the next year, so I agreed and we actually shared a hotel room in Boston at the Copley Square Hotel. I remember that it was actually a suite of rooms, and so I met people like Bob Maddox from Stanford there at that meeting, and many other people. Ted Einstein and Ted Madey.

HOLLOWAY: A lot of good names.

ROWE: That’s right. Paul Palmberg I think was there at that meeting.

HOLLOWAY: Roland Webber came to several of those.

ROWE: And I also met Roland Webber, I think that's right.

HOLLOWAY: So how did you switch at Bell Labs from optical spectroscopy to electron spectroscopy?

ROWE: Well, Bell Labs during the early- to mid-’60s had a very active group in photo emission from semiconductors, and in fact the people doing that, Garth Gobeli and Fred Allen, left in the mid-’60s, about the time that I entered graduate school. Bell Labs had planned to replace them, and they actually hired two people before they hired me to do photo emission from semiconductors. The second of those was Dave Aspnes. Each time they hired someone, that person decided to go into another experimental technique, and of course Dave ended up inventing spectroscopic ellipsometry (being famous for that), and when I arrived he was on his way towards doing that. I didn’t know very much about photoemission, but I was smart enough to figure out if I was the third person that they hired, if I wanted to stay during the ’70s when the job market was not too good, I’d better do photoemission. So I started doing that, and fortunately Charlie Tracy was interested in that as well. They had also hired in another group Neville Smith, and the three of us worked on photoemission, as did Mort Traum (later very actrive in AVS), who was an assistant of Neville’s and someone who I interacted a lot with in those early days in the ’70s, which was a very exciting period.

HOLLOWAY: Yes, it was unfortunate the early death of Mort Traum.

ROWE: It was.

HOLLOWAY: His memory lingers with the Society through the Mort Traum Award, though.

ROWE: That’s right. Yeah, I guess they’re getting ready to award that later today.

HOLLOWAY: Yes. So the three or four of you formed a common interest group there. Was it primarily synchrotron radiation?

ROWE: Well, initially it wasn’t. Initially it was using laboratory-based sources, and in fact there was a rapid evolution of photoemission because in those days in the early ’70s there had been a group of gas-phase physical chemists doing gas phase photoemission using methods quite different from the physics people. And in fact Homer Hagstrum had suggested that I learn about these methods, and I did this as I was starting to learn about setting up my own photoemission system. It turned out that Dick Brundle (also very active in AVS) was a postdoc in one of those physical chemistry groups at Bell Labs; in those days Bell Labs was a great place. Many people went through there. And I went and talked to Dick and saw the apparatus that he set up using a helium resonance lamp, and I decided I needed to build one of those. So I started looking into the physics of that and built several prototypes. It ended up that several other groups were interested in the same sort of thing, so I interacted with people within Bell Labs and also in other laboratories. Of course one of the famous places was the National Bureau of Standards where John Yates, Ted Madey, and Ward Plummer was there, and I interacted a lot with Ward on a particular type of UV lamp using microwave radiation for the excitation source, and that was very helpful to me to have those important interactions. I think one of the nice things about the AVS is it encouraging a lot of networking, and that really helped me get into the surface game, which was moving very rapidly in the ’70s, and I was fortunate enough to be in that group of active people then.

HOLLOWAY: Now the other group that was really strong in those days was IBM Research, and there was always a friendly competition, or sometimes not so friendly competition.

ROWE: That’s right, yes that’s right.

HOLLOWAY: Were there comparable groups at IBM?

ROWE: Yes. Of course the main group there was headed by Dean Eastman, but he had some younger colleagues: Warren Grobman John Freeouf, and then Joe Demuth, and all of them were been active in the AVS at various times in the 1970's. Dean Eastman was involved in management things, and was not as active in the AVS as some of his colleagues were. But you’re right, there was a lot of competition there. And as we moved into using synchrotron radiation, which became important as the synchrotrons improved rapidly. From about 1971 to about 1975 there was extremely rapid improvements in synchrotron radiation of a factor of 10 in intensity and useful light, sort of almost each year. So by 1975 there was maybe (100) times more intensity, and one could do as good if not better work at that time than with the lab-based resonance lamp. And change that made it worthwhile for me at Bell Labs, along with Mort Traum and Neville Smith, to pack up some equipment and ship it well over a thousand miles out to the Madison, Wisconsin area to Stoughton, Wisconsin and use the synchrotron radiation lab out there. Dean Eastman and his colleagues at IBM did the same thing, and Ward Plummer did the same thing. He moved to the University of Pennsylvania about that time. So there were a lot of surface science people that got involved with synchrotron radiation in Wisconsin. And then of course nationally, several other groups wanted to start their own synchrotron labs. Each of those groups that I mentioned ended up interacting with the people at Brookhaven National Laboratory and building facilities to do photoelectron spectroscopy there during the 1980. Brookhaven kind of came online about 1981.

HOLLOWAY: So they were brighter sources. That was the impetus for using them, but they were also more reliable as time went on I guess, right?

ROWE: That's right. The real change came with—Brookhaven was one of the first dedicated synchrotron sources that was designed from the ground up to produce synchrotron radiation. The facility in Wisconsin was really built initially to study the accelerator physics of a proton-based machine, and they used electrons because they could build a much smaller machine with electrons that were much lighter particles, and it was a prototype for a high-energy physics proton machine and some of the design ideas were incorporated into that. They rebuilt it to do synchrotron radiation, but of course there were limitations in the way the accelerator operated, and the later ones were more reliable, had even brighter currents. The synchrotron current now at Brookhaven when they first inject is about an amp, and in Wisconsin when I first considered going to do experiments shortly after I joined Bell Labs they were less than one milliamp. So that was a factor of a thousand difference, and that made a big difference in the type of experiments that could be done.

HOLLOWAY: So the beamline at Stoughton, did it continue to be used for dual purpose, or was it dedicated exclusively to synchrotron?

ROWE: It was dedicated to synchrotron radiation, but it wasn’t really designed as well.

HOLLOWAY: Oh, so it had limitations.

ROWE: In fact during the late ’70s, early ’80s when Brookhaven was being built, they built a somewhat different machine at Wisconsin, so they improved it as well, and that served a lot of the people in the Midwest at Wisconsin.

HOLLOWAY: There were synchrotrons later on in California: the Advanced Light Source, and then Argonne got one, and there is a plethora of them now. Maybe plethora is not the right word, but there are many of them.

ROWE: That's right. After Brookhaven was built, there were continued improvements in accelerator physics. Actually Stanford had come online earlier in the late ’70s, and even though it wasn’t designed for synchrotron radiation it was still a very useful source. It had the advantage compared to Wisconsin of producing shorter wavelength synchrotron radiation that was very useful for a lot of experiments. The Berkeley synchrotron and the Argonne synchrotron came on in the late ’80s as so-called second generation dedicated facilities, and I was involved in the mid-1980s in a committee that helped to study the future of those facilities. At that time I’d actually taken a leave of absence from Bell Labs and joined the University of Florida, and was fortunate to be able to interact a lot with you and your group of students down there.

HOLLOWAY: We certainly had a good time.

ROWE: That’s right.

HOLLOWAY: Good. We’ll come back to that. I wanted to go back and ask you, Bell Labs of course was one of the places where LEED was invented, and Auger with the retarding field analyzer came along. Davisson-Germer was an earlier experiment. How much of that do you remember? Did it affect you any?

ROWE: Of course by the time I joined Bell Labs—The Davisson-Germer experiment was done in 1927, and people still told stories about that. Lester Germer had retired from Bell Labs several years earlier and had taken a research faculty position at Cornell University, and he was somebody that Charlie Tracy that I mentioned interacted a lot with. And Lester came down and I did meet him in the early stages of my career, but I didn’t interact with him. He unfortunately passed away not long after I met him—he was quite a hiker, and in a mountain climbing accident. He had some health issues, and I don’t really recall the exact details. But I do recall a lot of the stories that were told about Lester Germer, who was involved in development of the modern LEED apparatus that is of the type that is still being used today, which is the so-called display LEED apparatus.

HOLLOWAY: Some people call it the post-acceleration technique too, I think, right?

ROWE: That’s right, post-diffraction acceleration technique. That was developed actually by a person named Ed Scheibner and Lester Germer. the discoverer of LEED. Homer Hagstrum would tell the story that Ed Scheibner was interested in developing LEED for applied physics studies, but he didn’t know too much about surface physics, and Homer said, “Well, Lester Germer is in the surface group; maybe you ought to go talk to him.” And Homer said he had to talk to Lester to convince him that it was a worthwhile thing to help this younger guy develop a new LEED apparatus, and Germer, who was kind of an irascible personality, said, “Hagstrum, how would you like somebody to come and tell you you ought to go back and work on something that you worked on 35 or 40 years ago?” Because Lester was a very young man when the first electron diffraction was done in 1927; but Homer's suggestion worked out. Then Jim Lander (at Bell Labs) picked up on that new LEED method and did a number of early studies of semiconductor surfaces. Howver, he was someone who had retired by the time that I got there, so I missed out on a lot of the historic people at Bell Labs, but I did hear a lot of the stories from the people that were still there at Bell Labs such as John Arthur and Al Cho about these folks. In 1953 Lander used the LEED type apparatus for some early demonstrations of Auger, but it wasn’t very practical because the lock-in amplifier hadn’t really been widely in use at the time that he did the measurements.

HOLLOWAY: Right, the background was real high, so the peaks were real small.

ROWE: Yes. So the lock-in amplifier was really something that was revolutionary in the 1960's, a lot like the scanning probe microscopy in the late ’80s, ’90s, and even at the current time in 2011. In fact, the commercial lock-in amplifier was what allowed our group to do the optical modulation studies at Brown University, so I was quite familiar with that. That was used in the modern Auger analyzers that came along in the 1970s.

HOLLOWAY: Another name that gets mixed up in the electron diffraction story is Farnsworth, because he was still doing it the same way Davisson-Germer did it by recording the diffraction peaks and intensities.

ROWE: That's right. There is evidence that Farnsworth actually observed the same sort of signals that were observed by Davisson and Germer in 1927, and the story at Bell Labs was actually Davisson, actually the lead scientist, was not there in the laboratories, which of course were not at Murray Hill, New Jersey; they were in New York City. But he was in Europe. They’d had some early hints that they were seeing something, but the best observations were actually done when he was in Europe, and they called him on the trans-Atlantic cable that had recently been installed. They had access to that because Bell Labs was in New York City close by. So this was an advantage that he had over Farnsworth, who was not in communication with the early people that were developing quantum physics, which was done mainly in Europe in Germany and in Copenhagen, Denmark.

HOLLOWAY: Those are interesting stories that show interrelationships and how rapidly information was communicated, or sometimes not communicated in that area.

ROWE: That’s right.

HOLLOWAY: One other thing I wanted to ask about was Homer Hagstrum. He’s famous for his ion interactions with surfaces. Did you get involved with that at all?

ROWE: I didn’t really. The ion neutralization spectroscopy that he developed was a type of Auger measurement of valance electrons, and to get useful information required a lot of detailed mathematical analysis, which he also worked hard on. To do this he used computers which were in those days in the early ’70s were pretty primitive, and you used punch cards that you had in big file cabinets to run the results. I was trying to learn a lot about the experimental techniques and didn’t want to get involved with messy calculations. Once photoelectron spectroscopy became more feasible with the helium resonance lamps, Homer actually added that to his equipment and did a lot of photoelectron spectroscopy as well, kind of independently from my work. I should also mention that in those early days I was very fortunate to have a visiting scientist from Germany, Harald Ibach, who knew a lot about electron spectroscopy and wanted to spend a year at Bell Labs. He asked Homer what group he should work with, and Homer, being a very generous person, said, “Well, look around, and you can work with anybody you want to.” I had just finished what was then an early state-of-the-art apparatus to do photo emission, and so Ibach chose to work with me, and we had a very productive year, 1973. He ended up getting a very nice job in Germany as a co-director of one of the labs in Ulich, Germany, and built up a big effort doing electron energy loss spectroscopy.

HOLLOWAY: Yeah, I interviewed Wilson Ho yesterday, and he gave a lot of credit to Harald Ibach for starting elastic tunneling spectroscopy. Or promoting it at least; maybe not starting it.

ROWE: Yeah.

HOLLOWAY: So give us some flavor for Bell Labs. You were well supported by technical staff for glass blowing and vacuum systems and sample making, et cetera. You were given free rein, but you had to produce at the same time is my understanding.

ROWE: That’s right. I mean Bell Labs was a fantastic place. Of course its financial support came through the regulated Bell system. And the thing that I remember in those early days, of course the economy was kind of up and down a lot, like it’s been in the last ten years or so here at the current time. With the regulated telephone system, when the economy was low and there wasn’t as much business the Bell Labs budget wasn’t very good. But then when things improved a bit, they would pump some extra money into Bell Labs to kind of make up for the leaner times. So those were really great times because then you could propose new projects, like photoemission with synchrotron radiation, and get substantial funding, and we really got kind of spoiled by that. And it was a big enough place that there were several different groups. One example that I mentioned earlier was the group of Mort Traum and Neville Smith. They worked mainly on metals with photoelectron spectroscopy. Another group had Dick Brundle, and when he was there actually was a postdoc. He left and went back to England and partnered with VG, that has been a regular at the AVS exhibits, to develop surface analysis with photoemission and Auger, and then came back to the US to IBM Research Labs. The funding at Bell Labs was good enough to support a lot of people, but if you weren’t productive you were asked to leave; and I was very fortunate to have been fairly productive. I think one of the things that I can attribute to my success was learning about the networking, which I learned a lot about at AVS meetings, and I made use of that at Bell Labs because there were a lot of people interested in surfaces and surface techniques, and I was able to collaborate with a lot of different groups, and that helped keep my productivity high and allow me to do a lot of new things.

HOLLOWAY: That’s great. The networking is an important aspect to that. I’ve made that point with a number of interviews, and there’s general agreement by people I’ve interviewed that that’s a primary purpose for getting young people involved and getting them started with the society.

ROWE: That’s right.

HOLLOWAY: Let me ask. You mentioned Homer Hagstrum as a group leader. Were there other group leaders there that were influential in your program?

ROWE: He was the main one in the surface area. But one of the other characteristics of Bell Labs, and also true of IBM Research Labs, is that they had scientists that went into management, so when you talked to a manager to try to promote your new ideas and continue in basic research, you were talking to somebody who had a basic research background, and I think that made the communication much easier and more productive for both the manager and individual scientist like myself. And Homer was a very generous guy. There was a fashionable trend as they global economy expanded in the ’70s and ’80s toward a concept that was termed in those days as “Japanese style” management, which meant more of a collaborative as opposed to a dictatorial type of management, and Homer had a style that was before that fashionable time sort of the same way of more of a collaborative, helpful, mentoring type of management rather than “Let’s all get together and work on my ideas and make me famous,” which other people managing science sometimes did. So that was very helpful to me and to Dave Aspnes and others in his group. At a later time we hired Mark Cardillo, who was somebody that was active in the AVS, and so he’s another personality. And of course he and Dave are both past AVS awardees of the Welch Award. Mark was a molecular-beam chemist, and I remember a lot of the people in the chemistry part of Bell Labs said, “Well why did you go into the Surface Physics Department?” And I remember several of us saying that well in surface physics, if you don’t know something about surface chemistry, you’re not going to be very successful in doing physics, because surface control, which is still an important topic, was critical in those early times.

HOLLOWAY: You started off in the synchrotron in Stoughton. Did you interact with a lot of the people, faculty there at Madison?

ROWE: I did. One of the things that I learned from AVS and from Bell Labs is the value of networking and collaborating, and I thought well gee, I’m going to be out here in Stoughton, Wisconsin, which was actually out in the middle of a bunch of corn fields and things there in the Midwest, and 1,000 miles from all of the help that I had, and if I had something break I wanted to know how I could get it fixed. So I started interactions with Barney Webb and Max Lagally that were on the main campus in Madison. I had met Barney and Max both the first full summer that I was there at Bell Labs at a summer school in 1970 on surface science at the University of Washington and at the Battelle Research Institute headquarters out there, and I spent about a month out there learning and going to a series of workshops. Most of the people from the field who I later interacted with at the AVS meeting about a year later came through there. So I had met Barney Webb and Max Lagally, and I interacted with them and got some support. And in fact, took a summer off from Bell Labs in 1978 and taught a course on electron spectroscopy at the Madison campus and was able to continue some of my research with synchrotron radiation during that time.

HOLLOWAY: Is that the only time you took a summer off while you were there?

ROWE: That was. That was about five years before in the fall of 1983 that I then took a whole year and a half off, came down to Gainesville, Florida to the University of Florida to do teaching and research there. I had intended to stay there, but I found that my activities at the University were much more demanding than they were at Bell Labs, and I had gotten kind of spoiled. Actually Bell Labs at that time was increasing their funding, and so I was kind of torn between the challenges of the University of Florida, and after about a year to a year and a half I decided to return to Bell Labs. But I continued a part-time interaction with you and others at Florida to help mentor some of the students that I had started working with there. And of course your group was extremely helpful in helping these physics students as well during that time. I think that I was maybe just a little bit too young, and also not as organized as I needed to be, to be a successful university professor.

HOLLOWAY: Well I think you did a good job there. I think you got sort of caught up in some of the politics of Department of Physics as well.

ROWE: Well, that’s probably true.

HOLLOWAY: In the Microfabritech program, you were sort of head out there for a while, too.

ROWE: That’s right, yeah.

HOLLOWAY: So it was our loss that you decided to go back. I wish we could have kept you there.

ROWE: Well, yeah, I do too. I have many fond memories of those interactions. I thought about returning, but the timing just never was quite right, and I ended up only going down to North Carolina, which was a very good place as well with the three universities in the Research Triangle area. I did that about 15 years ago.

HOLLOWAY: So what date was it that you came to the University of Florida?

ROWE: I came there in the fall of 1983, but I don’t think I actually joined the University until January of 1984. Then I stayed through to June of 1985, so about a year and a half I was there. I had to make a decision because my leave of absence from Bell Labs was running out, and times were changing there. During that year and a half that I was at the University of Florida the big anti-trust suit had made the decision to break up the Bell system and form other entities, so Bell Labs was dividing into a Bell Labs connected with the remnants of the Bell system and another research lab called Belcor. Dave Aspnes went into Belcor Labs and headed up their surface physics group there. Homer Hagstrum had retired by then and I had actually been the group leader for a short while, but then they chose Don Hamann to continue that as group leader. So I had to make this tough decision, and I ended up taking the more familiar route of going back to Bell Labs instead of continuing with the challenges at the University of Florida.

HOLLOWAY: So you went back and you continued synchrotron and electron spectroscopy?

ROWE: I did. And I guess one of the other things when I went back, Bell Labs was located only about 100 miles from the Brookhaven synchrotron, and I had built up facilities there that during these times of change at Bell Labs I wanted to try to have Bell Labs be active in using, and I was one of the people that knew about that. I worked with Neville Smith. I don’t remember exactly when Mort Traum passed away, but I think it was right around that same time, the mid-’80s.

HOLLOWAY: I believe it was. I don’t remember exactly either. So how long did you remain at Bell Labs after you went back from the University of Florida?

ROWE: I remained at Bell Labs about ten more years, and during that time the funding situation became more and more difficult, and they decided to form a new company. That decision was made in 1995, and that company, Lucent Technologies, was started in 1996. I was able to find a position in North Carolina with the Army Research Office and went there in 1996; that was a very nice position and allowed me to do research sponsored by North Carolina State University. At the time that I went there, 1996-1997, I sort of worked three days a week for the Army and two days a week I got to do research and teaching at North Carolina State. Dave Aspnes was already there at NC State. He’d been there about four years, and so I followed him. The Army said, “Which of the three universities would your work at?” and I said, “North Carolina State.” They were very happy because most of the other physics people worked at Duke, and that organization had actually been on the Duke campus up until the late ’60s or so. With the protest over the Vietnam War, they moved off campus. But the affiliation with Duke had been continued even into the 1980s and ’90s.

HOLLOWAY: So what was your official title?

ROWE: Senior Research Scientist was my official title, which also had a secondary set of initials ST, which stood for Senior Technologist or Senior Scientist Technologist—nobody ever really quite knew what the initials stood for. But that was supposed to be a management-level position, a senior position, but without the personnel duties that a senior manager would have. So I sat on a lot of Army committees, went to a lot of meetings. I was supposed to identify new areas of research important to the Army and help them identify some of the technical limitations and see if there were ways around some of those. So I did a lot of traveling and going to meetings from 1996 to 2001, and I enjoyed that because I had always enjoyed the networking that I mentioned earlier, and so this was just a more expanded view of networking. And that worked out really well for me until the time of 9/11 in September, 2001 when I was at a meeting down in Florida actually with you and Gary McGuire. Then the traveling got much more difficult after that. And also I’d had trouble with arthritis during then and ended up with some need-to-have joint replacement surgery in the summer of 2001, and so that was kind of the beginning of the end of my Army career. I was able after that to move full-time to the University of North Carolina system to Chapel Hill and NC State, where I am today.

HOLLOWAY: So you moved there in what year?

ROWE: In 2004 I moved to the University of North Carolina system to Chapel Hill; then in 2007 I moved to NC State full-time.

HOLLOWAY: In 2007 you went to North Carolina State exclusively?

ROWE: That’s right. So after 9/11/2001 I was with the Army for about two more years. I left ARO in January of 2004, to join UNC-Chapel Hill for not quite three and a half years later when I returned to NC State.

HOLLOWAY: Now your brief bio said that you had the title of Associate Director of Biological Division in addition to Senior Technologist.

ROWE: That’s right. Yeah, I mentioned that I wasn’t supposed to do management, but if there was a need I could od managment at ARO, and there was a time when that ARO position was vacant. And because of the people skills that I had learned at Bell Labs and AVS and the early part of my Army career, they chose me to temporarily head up that group and interact with some of the people that did know biological sciences, and keep that group running and help to rebuild it. We actually did two hires during that time, and both of those people are still with ARO today. So I was pleased that I was able to help them through that period of transition.

HOLLOWAY: So how much biological sciences did you learn during that period?

ROWE: Well, more than I remember now! [Laughter] A lot of the biological sciences part, though, was closely connected to chemical sciences, and as a surface physicist, as I mentioned earlier, I was always fascinated by chemistry. So with my chemical knowledge I was able to spread out into the biological sciences a little bit to help me through. I didn’t know much, and I had to depend on the senior people that were there that did know the biology.

HOLLOWAY: Your current title at NC State is Research Professor of Physics. Has that always been your title there?

ROWE: That has been my title for the last five years, and I plan to continue that. So that means that I’m not normally paid by university funds except when the need arises. Actually about a year or so ago I decided I was going to discontinue doing the formal classroom teaching and just continue to teach undergraduate and graduate students about research, and I’ve been doing that over the past year to year and half, both undergraduate and graduate students. And I actually mentored a few high school students during the past year. One of them is continuing right now in a science competition. I like working with the students, but I’ll have a little bit of extra time so I can do a little more traveling. I’m starting to do a little more traveling than I used to do, and I renewed my activities at Brookhaven National Lab with some new experiments, which I’ll talk a little bit about tomorrow in my award talk.

HOLLOWAY: Now you’re a fellow of the APS and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, AAAS.

ROWE: That's right. I think the only society that I’ve been active in that I’m not a fellow of is the Materials Research Society. They just instituted that, and I haven’t been very active in that society in the last few years. With my university funding I kind of had to make a choice between AVS and MRS, and since I’ve been involved in AVS longer and have many friends there, I choose to continue to be active in AVS and have kind of given up on the MRS now.

HOLLOWAY: You’ve taken a number of leaves, so you were a visiting professor at Rutgers, etc. How have those helped your career? And would you advise that for young people today?

ROWE: Well, I think I did that in later stages of my career. But I think it is good to get more experience, and many of the young people today do second postdocs and get experience at different institutions. I think that the thing that I like about being involved in science is I’m always learning new things, and when you go to different institutions you meet new people and learn new things. So I think it helps give you a perspective that can allow you to make improvements in what you’re doing.

HOLLOWAY: I want to take you back again to the days when you first started at Bell Labs. Another question has occurred to me, and that is that you looked at the silicon (100) and (111) surfaces and reconstruction on that presumably, or thought about it. And there was this big controversy initially between what the reconstruction really was, and it wasn’t defined very well by LEED, but STM came along and helped solve that issue. What do you remember of those events?

ROWE: Yes, on silicon (100) the reconstruction is simpler than on (111). On silicon (100) there’s a so-called 2 by 1, which means a doubling of the periodicity parallel to the surface in one direction. Actually the accepted model for that became accepted through use of photoelectron spectroscopy and some of the measurements that I did early on and theoretical work that Joel Applebaum and Don Hammond did. But the challenge was the silicon (111) 7x7 surface that meant that instead of doubling in one direction there was a sevenfold increase in two different directions in the (111) plane. That was the more stable surface. There were many different models for that, and that didn’t really get solved until the first imaging of STM with atomic scale or near atomic scale resolution was done by Binning and Rohrer, for which they received the Nobel Prize. Rohrer always used to say that after STM, everybody agreed on the structure of that surface, and before STM nobody agreed with anybody else; everybody had a different idea. That’s a bit of an overstatement. I think about the same time that they did their very nice work that was well recognized with the Nobel Prize—you can’t really get any more prestigious than that—there were Japanese measurements done with transmission electron microscopy and diffraction in transmission. Kunio Takayanagi (of Tokyo Institute of Technology, Department of Physics) did those measurements, and also developed a very similar structure for the 7x7 surface. And in fact it was the combination of his measurements with the STM measurements that really helped complete the interpretation of the 7x7 surface. That surface was very popular because it was pretty easy to reproduce in the laboratory, and so it was a surface that was used in a lot of the early LEED equipment being sold as a test sample. And in fact with STM I think it was used by a lot of the STM equipment manufacturers as a test sample as well because it was a very famous surface, and relatively easy to image with STM systems.

HOLLOWAY: Now you worked with some of the electron microscopy techniques as well. Is that true? Low energy?

ROWE: I’ve really worked mainly with the scanning probe microscopies, with STM. I started a little bit of that just as I was leaving Bell Labs and going to North Carolina, and then I’ve continued that mainly in a collaborative mode with people at NC State.

HOLLOWAY: You have looked some at carbon films as well.

ROWE: That’s right. Of course the current rage in carbon nanotechnology has shifted from carbon nanotubes to graphene films, and I’ve been involved in some graphene studies and have a graduate student that’s finishing up his Ph.D. on graphene now, and I’ll mention that in my talk tomorrow. Because the graphene that we make is grown epitaxially on silicon carbide, and those surfaces also have a 6x6 reconstruction that’s really not understood, but may be related to the silicon (111) 7x7 reconstruction. So we’ll see about this later as more experiments are understood.

HOLLOWAY: Get Binning to apply his technique to it!

ROWE: That’s right, that’s right. [Laughter] Well you can see the periodicity with STM, but it’s a little more complicated to interpret than the silicon interpretation.

HOLLOWAY: Another major material that you looked at some has been silicon germanium alloys. What were your results in that area?

ROWE: That work I did mainly when I was at Bell Labs, and what we found, germanium is of course a bigger atom than silicon, and the surface of germanium silicon alloys on the (100) surface tends to have a mixture of about half silicon and about half germanium, and the reconstruction is this dimer reconstruction, where one atom is silicon and one atom is germanium. That helps to relieve the strain that develops between the alloy film and the silicon substrate that has a somewhat smaller lattice constant.

HOLLOWAY: That’s been used in fast transistors. Did your results impact that use at all?

ROWE: I’m not sure that it did. It may have impacted some of the growth techniques for that. But of course there were many people working on this by that time in the 1990s, so it’s hard to say any single set of measurements that were critically important.

HOLLOWAY: Let me come back to graphene. When carbon nanotubes first came on the scene everybody got excited and everybody wanted to make carbon nanotubes and study their properties. You have the same sort of phenomena with graphene now, but it seems to me that graphene has the potential for staying around and being more generally applicable than does nanotubes. Do you have comments on that?

ROWE: I think you’re right. For one thing, because of its two-dimensional nature it’s more amenable to nanomanufacturing techniques than carbon nanotubes, and one can do some of the chemical lift-off methods that have been used in the semiconductor manufacturing industry and things like that. There still seems to be a need for much better materials control, but it’s only been a few years since that work has been active of epitaxial growth. So I think we have a little ways to go with doing a little more research to get the technology under control. Although there are several companies that have started making graphene materials and trying to sell that commercially.

HOLLOWAY: Jack, we’ve covered a lot of topics. Is there any topic that you’d like to add?

ROWE: I don’t think so. I think that it’s been very rewarding for me to be a member of AVS and to have this recognition with the Nerken Award. I’m looking forward to continuing my involvement with AVS in the future, and I’d like to thank the AVS and its various committees, especially the Awards Committee for selecting me as the 2011 Nerken awardee.

HOLLOWAY: Well, it’s well deserved, so congratulations again.

ROWE: Thank you.

HOLLOWAY: Thank you.