Awardee Interviews | Biography: Dr. Marjorie Olmsted

Dr. Marjorie Olmsted

Dr. Marjorie Olmstead
Marjorie Olmstead received her B.A. (Highest Honors) from Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania in 1979, majoring in physics with minors in applied mathematics and physical chemistry. She attended graduate school in physics at the University of California, Berkeley, where she received her M.A. in 1982 and her Ph.D. in 1985. At Berkeley, she developed the technique of photothermal displacement spectroscopy to measure very small optical absorption signals, and used the technique to measure the optical adsorption of dangling bond states on cleaved Si and Ge. Her thesis work exploited these measurements to probe the symmetry, reconstructions, phase transitions and electron-phonon interaction on these surfaces.

Dr. Olmstead joined the Xerox Palo Alto Research Center as a Member of the Research Staff in 1985. She returned to Berkeley in 1986 as an Assistant Professor of Physics, and held a joint appointment as a Faculty Scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley Laboratory's Center for Advanced Materials from 1988 through 1993. She joined the faculty at the University of Washington, Seattle, in 1991, where she is currently an Associate Professor of Physics and Adjunct Associate Professor of Chemistry.

Beginning with her work at Xerox, Dr. Olmstead has pursued an interest in the chemical, structural and energetic constraints controlling the heteroepitaxy of strongly disparate materials. using .in-situ core-level and valence-band photoemissian spectroscopy and X-ray standing wave fluorescence, Dr. Olmstead and her collaborators have shown how interface reactions, and the distinct surface energies and reaction tendencies of the resultant interface compounds, can control the structure and electronic properties of interfaces between strongly dissimilar materials, as well as the morphology of the resultant overlayer film.

Prof. Olmstead's current research centers on the kinetics of heteroepitaxy and on the structural and electronic properties of ultra-thin ionic materials. She and her students are among the first in the world to apply the technique of component-resolved X-ray photoelectron diffraction to study the kinetics of heteroepitaxial growth. Their site-specific diffraction studies of calcium fluoride growth on silicon have yielded in situ kinetic information on the heteroepitaxy of strongly dissimilar systems, and have demonstrated the complex variety of growth modes accessible. Recently, her group has made both experimental and theoretical advances in understanding the role of thin film geometry on core-level energies in insulators.

Prof. Olmstead received a National Science Foundation Presidential Young Investigator Award and an IBM Faculty Development Award in 1986, and was the spokesperson for a multi-investigator project funded through the 1989 Department of Energy "2% Initiative" Competition. Prof. Olmstead enjoys teaching at both the graduate and undergraduate level. She is active in the American Vacuum Society, and is currently both a member of the Electronic Materials and Processing Division program committee and the Puget Sound Representative to the Pacific Northwest Chapter of the AVS.