Awardee Interviews | Biography: Miquel Salmeron

Miquel Salmeron

Miquel SalmeronDr. Miquel Salmeron, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, “for seminal contributions to the development of surface characterization techniques usable in a variety of environments and their application to catalysis, tribology and related surface phenomena.”

Miquel Salmeron is a Senior Scientist at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL), and Scientific Director of the Imaging Facility of the Molecular Foundry, the Nanoscience Research Center in Berkeley. He is also Adjunct Professor in the Materials Science and Engineering Department of the University of California at Berkeley. His work spans several areas of surface science, including structure, reactivity, wetting and friction phenomena, with emphasis in the molecular level. He studied Physics at the University of Barcelona in Spain, and obtained a Ph.D. at the Universidad Autonoma of Madrid in 1975. Following postdoctoral work at the LBNL he held a joint appointment as a professor of physics at the Universidad Autonoma de Madrid and at the Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Cientificas. During this period he studied growth of metals on metals using electron spectroscopy and He atom scattering. In 1984 Dr. Salmeron moved to the LBNL, where he developed a research program on surface phenomena based on the application of the recently invented Scanning Tunneling and Atomic Force Microscopes (STM, AFM), which he applied to study diffusion of atoms and molecules, including S, CO, and water on Pt, Re, Ni, Ru and Pd. He discovered the enormous enhancement of diffusivity of water when it formed dimers. He unveiled the nature of active sites in many surface reactions, including water formation from O and H, H2 dissociation, and others. He has made major contributions to the understanding of atomic level phenomena important in tribology, the science of friction, adhesion, and wear, showing how energy losses in friction are connected with elementary excitation processes, including phonons, molecular deformations (gauche defects, tilts), and creation of surface point defects. Dr. Salmeron consistently applies theoretical methods, developed with colleague theorists in his group and with collaborators in institutions worldwide, to help interpret STM images. His work emphasizes the importance of interpreting images with the help of calculations. Dr. Salmeron pioneered the development of novel instrumentation that opened the way for studies of surfaces under environmental conditions of pressure and temperature, in humid environments and in chemical reactors. These include high pressure STM and Ambient Pressure Photoelectron Spectroscopy (APPES). He used these to determine the structure of surfaces under reaction conditions, the melting of ice near the triple point and the preferential segregation of anions at the surface of aqueous solutions. Dr. Salmeron has pioneered the application of nanoscale imaging methods to study wetting phenomena of liquids, including water, perfluorinated lubricants, liquid crystals and others. In the case of alkali halides he showed how water adsorbs and solvates first the ions at the step edges and later in the rest of the surface. Dr. Salmeron has published over 350 articles and imparted numerous talks in Academia, Industry and International Meetings. His papers have received more than 10,500 citations. He was elected Fellow of the American Physical Society in 1996 and of AVS in 2003. He serves in the Editorial Board of Surface Science and Tribology Letters.