Awardee Interviews | Charles Campbell - 2015 Medard W. Welch Award - Interview

Interview: Charles Campbell


2015 Medard W. Welch Award Recipient: Charles Campbell

Interviewed by Dick Brundle, October 20, 2015

 
BRUNDLE:  Today is Tuesday, the 20th of October 2015, and I’m Dick Brundle.  I am representing the AVS, and I have with me Professor Charles T. Campbell.  I am here to interview him as this year’s awardee of the Medard W. Welch Award, the highest award of the AVS.  So welcome, Charlie.  I’ve known you as Charlie all my life, not as Charles, so hey, we can do that.  Your citation reads…I’m going to read it directly from the AVS book here.  “For seminal contributions to determining accurate adsorption energetics and for developing key concepts for the analysis of important catalytic reactions.”  You are currently hold the Rabinovitch Endowed Chair in chemistry at University of Washington.
So I’d like you to start with when and where you were born and your route through primary and secondary education and how you decided where to take your undergraduate work and what subject to take.  We’ll go on from there.
 
CAMPBELL:  Okay.  Thanks, Dick.  Well, I was born in Beaumont, Texas, which is the town in Texas where oil was discovered first, and so I grew up there and was fortunate enough to go to Catholic schools as a kid.  So I had pretty rigorous math in schools, and I really never had to study math after high school much.  I learned new math, but I’d learned how to learn it by myself through that experience.  I had a bunch of older brothers and sisters who taught me how to put up with lots of constructive criticism, but at the same time they taught me logic, and how to thoroughly analyze and argue points. They were even willing to accept defeat if I could win a debate with logic.
 
BRUNDLE:  So it was a big family?
 
CAMPBELL:  Yeah, eight kids total.
 
BRUNDLE:  Eight kids!  My goodness.  So when you said you were lucky enough to go to a Catholic school, does that imply that in Texas, where you were, it would have been hard to get a good education unless you went to some provide school…?
 
CAMPBELL:  I don’t know.  I gather from the routes that other people have taken, I just have noticed that people who went to Catholic schools have done, I think, pretty well in general.  I think it has to do with…You know, they’re just more demanding than public schools. Or at least they used to be then.
 
BRUNDLE:  And seven siblings.
 
CAMPBELL:  Yeah, that’s right.  I would have never gone to--My parents were actually pretty poor because they raised kids during the Depression (my siblings were up to 18 years older than me).  But the Catholic Church had a nice thing in that— 
 
BRUNDLE:  But they were Americans, not immigrants?
 
CAMPBELL:  Yeah, they were Americans.  They had moved to Texas shortly before I was born, though.  Most of my brothers and sisters grew up in Kansas.  But I guess the only reason I could go to Catholic school was because the Catholic Church gives you a discount.  The more kids you have, the cheaper it is.   It’s cost was about the same for one as a bunch, you know.
 
BRUNDLE:  I see.
 
CAMPBELL:  Anyway, I actually went to college and majored in chemical engineering simply because I was good in math and science, and my oldest brother was a chemical engineer.
 
BRUNDLE:  Where was that?
 
CAMPBELL:  At Lamar University to start with in my hometown because I had to actually pay for my own tuition and room and board.  So the first two years I could only afford to stay with my parents, and then I finally saved up enough money and moved to University of Texas in Austin and then was lucky enough there to be approached by a professor who wanted me to do undergraduate research.  When I went and told him I wanted to take him up on the offer in the summer before my senior year, he asked me a bit about what my goals were, and at that point in time, I thought I wanted to change from chemical engineering major to physics major because I really liked the rigor.
 
BRUNDLE:  So you really wanted to learn the basic physics?
 
CAMPBELL:  Yeah, the basic stuff.  In those days, chemical engineering at University of Texas didn’t have much basic research.  Now they have a lot of basic research.
 
BRUNDLE:  Now my experience with chemical engineering—I was an adjunct professor through Bob Madix at Stanford for a while when I was at IBM Research…They seemed to mostly push powders through pipes, so a lot of equations to do in that.
 
CAMPBELL:  Yeah, differential equations galore.
 
BRUNDLE:  And a bit of chemistry research, right? 
 
CAMPBELL:  Yeah. But anyway, I thought I needed to change out of chemical engineering.  It turns out I didn’t need to, you know, and most people that do what I do now are actually in chemical engineering departments.  The fields have evolved tremendously with time.  As you know, surface science was done by physicists first and then picked up by physical chemists and now it is mostly done in chemical engineering departments…But anyway, I went to school two years at Lamar University and then did two years at University of Texas in Austin.  Started doing undergraduate research with J. M. (Mike) White instead of the guy that asked me to do research in his group. He pointed me instead to Mike White’s group, who was a physical chemist, since he determined from asking me questions that physical chemistry would be closer to my interests.  And he was spot on!
 
BRUNDLE:  Yes.  Mike White was well known in surface science and for protégés of his ever since.
 
CAMPBELL:  That’s right.  And I was really lucky because we had several people at that time in his research group who were pretty well motivated and smart and have sort of been friends all my life and kept me deeply interested in surface science, I guess, from those early days.
 
BRUNDLE:  So did you get internal direction from those people, other students, as to what direction you wanted to do after your degree and your graduate work?
 
CAMPBELL:  Yeah, I would guess.  I’d say yes.
 
BRUNDLE:  You did say you were an undergraduate with Mike White.
 
CAMPBELL:  Yeah, that’s right.  But then I stayed on.
 
BRUNDLE:  Okay, as a graduate.
 
CAMPBELL:  I actually did a funny thing.  I was so naive.  I went to graduate school at Stanford in chemistry.  I was going to do physical chemistry, but I wanted to work for Michel Boudart, who was a chemical engineering professor. But I didn’t realize he was a chemical engineering professor.  He probably thought I was goofy for changing from chemical engineering to chemistry.  He took Bob Weber into his group that year, not me, as he was only able to take one new student that year.  He was getting near retirement.
 
BRUNDLE:  Yes.  I met him around that time because of a strong interaction between IBM Research and primarily Bob’s group, but also the other people in that department.
 
CAMPBELL:  So Bob Madix actually took me under his wing and offered for me to join his group. Sometimes I regret not having done that because I think my route would have been easier.  But I decided to go back to Texas and work with Mike White because he was a known entity.  I was missing my friends.  I was making $400 a month at Stanford, and living in Palo Alto for $400 a month for your total was tough, you know.  [Laughs] 
 
BRUNDLE:  Ah, yes!
 
CAMPBELL:  So I moved back to Texas and finished my PhD there with Mike.
 
BRUNDLE:  Well, I’m a fan of Austin for sure, but that’s mainly through music.  [Laughs]  So how long were you there at Austin?
 
CAMPBELL:  Ah, good ole Austin City Limits!  Great music! Well, for my Ph.D., just sort of three and a half years.  But then I was two years from my undergraduate degrees I’d gone to in my hometown.  So a total of six years.
 
BRUNDLE:  Five or six years, yeah.
 
CAMPBELL:  Yeah, six years minus that quarter I was at Stanford, I guess.
 
BRUNDLE:  And then?
 
CAMPBELL:  And then I did a post-doc with…Well, first I should mention that I spent a summer during my PhD studies at Sandia National Lab with some well-known AVS people: Jack Houston and Bob Rye, who has since passed away, and Peter Feibelman, and wonderful people there.
 
BRUNDLE:  In Albuquerque.
 
CAMPBELL:  In Albuquerque.  Mike Knotek was also a boss of sorts for me while I was there, and Ted Madey was there on sabbatical at the time.   I published some nice papers with him and the Sandia guys based on that work.  Ted had worked with…or knew… Gerhard Ertl well, and he suggested I apply for a post-doc with Ertl, and so I did.
 
BRUNDLE:  But when you were in Albuquerque, then, you were there for several months then?
 
CAMPBELL:  Just one summer, yeah.  One summer.
 
BRUNDLE:  I think that’s probably where I first met you, actually, at an AVS meeting.
 
CAMPBELL:  Yeah.  No, I met you…Yes, that’s right.
 
BRUNDLE:  That’s right.
 
CAMPBELL:  It was during that period of time, yeah.  But no, I think I met you second then.  I met you first in a time when you don’t remember it—actually at the first AVS national meeting I ever went to in San Francisco in 1978 or something like that.  Or maybe you are right.  That local AVS meeting may have been before the National AVS meeting I have in mind.
 
BRUNDLE:  Because I was going to ask you when you were first involved with the AVS.  So 1978, first meeting.
 
CAMPBELL:  Yeah.  You gave a brilliant talk about interactions between adsorbates on nickel(100).
 
BRUNDLE:  This is supposed to be about you, not about me!
 
CAMPBELL:  Yeah.  But it inspired me.
 
BRUNDLE:  But no, I don’t remember that, but I do remember the Albuquerque meeting.  You’ll probably want to edit this.  I remember it because you turned up with two beautiful women, one on each arm.  I just remember that for some reason.  [Laughter] 
 
CAMPBELL:  I think that was a later Albuquerque meeting.  That was when I was working at Los Alamos National Lab and living in Sante Fe. 
 
BRUNDLE:  Well, okay.
 
CAMPBELL:  I was still pretty shy in those days at Sandia. 
 
BRUNDLE:  But those same guys, Jack Houston and co, invited me out there as soon as I came to IBM in 1975.
 
CAMPBELL:  Yeah, that’s right.  It was incredible.
 
BRUNDLE:  I was out there and had a good time.  They were a good bunch.  Yes.
 
CAMPBELL:  It was a perfect thing, and Mike White—hats off to Mike because he actually encouraged all of us graduate students, or perhaps I should say, really the more motivated ones, to go do something like that (i.e., spend a summer at a national lab) during their PhD studies.  J. W. (Bill) Rogers went to Los Alamos for three months, and Bruce Koel did something similar to that, I think.  Really we benefited a lot from that.  The senior guys at a place like that are actually working in the lab, so you can learn so much about instrumentation in that environment that you don’t get at a university.
 
BRUNDLE:  But they then pointed you in the direction of Europe?
 
CAMPBELL:  Yes, and I wanted a European experience.  So I had a very kind offer from Ted and John Yates at NBS and from Gabor Somorjai and from Gerhard Ertl, and I think I just took the Ertl one because I wanted a European experience.  So I went there and it turned out very well, and as you know, he won the Nobel Prize later on, so it’s nice to have those kinds of connections.  Plus the whole German academic system—in surface science and catalysis, I know them all very well from that.
 
BRUNDLE:  I remember his students used to call him “the little wonder” very early on in life when he was probably only in his late thirties.
 
CAMPBELL:  Yeah, yeah.  Amazing.  But anyway, so I was lucky like that, and did wonderful, fun things in Germany, both culturally and scientifically, and learned a huge amount.
 
BRUNDLE:  Do you speak German?
 
CAMPBELL:  Yeah.  Not so well anymore, you know, but I did pretty well.
 
BRUNDLE:  But while you were there, you could get by.
 
CAMPBELL:  Yeah, pretty much.  I actually taught myself German.  I went and audited a class one semester of college German and read the rest of the four semesters of the book and got better than many people who took a lot more German than I did.  But meantime I’ve forgotten most of it.  [Laughs]  I still try.  If I have enough to drink in Germany, I will spend an evening conversing in German.
 
BRUNDLE:  Mmm.  Well, I spent time at Heidelberg with Michael Grunze, and I learned enough so I could follow if they spoke slowly—pretty much all things if they spoke slowly.  But I could never convince myself to try and talk German if I didn’t absolutely have to because I was so bad at it!  [Laughs]
 
CAMPBELL:  It’s hard to get past that barrier of embarrassment.  Once you do, you learn fast, I think.  There was a guy named Johannes Segner, who was a fantastic guy.  He was a grad student with Ertl, and we worked together daily.  We made a deal that I would speak German to him and he would speak English to me.
 
BRUNDLE:  I see.
 
CAMPBELL:  We learned a lot from each other.
 
BRUNDLE:  So who were the other key surface science people that were contemporary with you with Ertl at that time?
 
CAMPBELL:  Well, I mean there were some older ones: Klaus Christmann and Kuipers and Horst Conrad and Klaus Wandelt.  They were all there.  I considered them kind of the older group, and they were sort of the lieutenants of his group.  But then Jürgen Behm was almost my age group.  There was a guy that was a grad student who came from Holland who was Herman Kuipers, who’s now a big gun at Shell Oil research in Amsterdam in catalysis and many other areas, I think.  But there was a bunch of great people there then, you know.  I’m trying to think.
 
BRUNDLE:  So you learned from them to do things the German way—thoroughly?  [Laughs]
 
CAMPBELL:  That’s right.  Yeah.  When I first went there I was worried about the famous “German work ethic,” but discovered that American graduate students actually work much harder than them, at least in those days.  At least in Mike White’s group they worked harder than German graduate students.
 
BRUNDLE:  So what happened after that?
 
CAMPBELL:  Well, so then I got a job offer at Los Alamos National Labs and went there as a staff member to build up a program in heterogenous catalysis, and worked there for five years.
 
BRUNDLE:  So maybe that was where I met you with the pretty girls.
 
CAMPBELL:  Yeah.  I think that I was probably single  and dating a lot and stuff.  Yeah, maybe.  Yeah, probably so.  So I was living in Santa Fe while I worked there.  It was a great place to be young.
 
BRUNDLE:  It still is.
 
CAMPBELL:  I did a lot of skiing.
 
BRUNDLE:  We go there every year in December…Well, actually usually January after the New Year.
 
CAMPBELL:  Yeah.  Did a lot of skiing and backpacking and stuff like that, but still had great work.  I collaborated with Tom Taylor, who was a big guy in AVS, I think for a while—at least the local AVS in New Mexico.  Walt Ellis is a famous old AVS dignitary, I guess from the old days, but he was there, too.  He was the first guy that really figured out the spot-splitting in low energy electron diffraction was due to steps.
 
BRUNDLE:  That vaguely comes back to me, yes. 
 
CAMPBELL:  He developed the old-fashioned laser transform way of trying to make a LEED spot image.  Great stuff.  Using too much time here?
 
BRUNDLE:  No.  I just wanted to check to make sure the recording is going okay.  I would be hate to do all this and then find out that it wasn’t there!  [Laughs]  So you were there five years?
 
CAMPBELL:  Yes, and then I started getting to the stage where I was sort of a presenter at the meetings within Los Alamos to the External Advisory Board.  I guess a couple of the members of the External Advisory Board noticed me, and pretty soon I had three job offers at universities at the same time in like my fifth year there.
 
BRUNDLE:  Three different universities.
 
CAMPBELL:  Yes.
 
BRUNDLE:  So you ended up where you are at Washington, but this was before then?
 
CAMPBELL:  First I went to Indiana University, and I was there shortly.  I had offers from Purdue and Georgia Tech.
 
BRUNDLE:  All great places.
 
CAMPBELL:  Yeah.  I chose Indiana, mostly because it was…They seemed to all have about the same reputation, and I thought I’d be happier there.  It just seemed like a nice college town and stuff like that.  That worked out well.  I was very happy at Indiana.  I met my wife while I was there.
 
BRUNDLE:  Well, that’s something I was going to ask about, family.  So that’s when you…
 
CAMPBELL:  Yeah, I met my wife.
 
BRUNDLE:  You were married during that time?
 
CAMPBELL:  Yes.  She was a professor of music, but at Butler University in Indianapolis. She had been at Washington University in St. Louis before that.  She was not a musician so much as scholar by that time-- although she had been a performer for years before she went back and got her doctorate.  She had been a K-12 music teacher before that, too, for a while.  She was a fantastic folk music writer.  She plays lots of instruments and sings beautifully too.  But she had evolved into a scholar in music education by the time we met, and wanted to still have graduate students and do graduate student related research in music education like she has done before moving to Butler University.  So she was kind of looking for jobs where she could advise graduate students in research—
 
BRUNDLE:  How did you meet, then?  Through music?
 
CAMPBELL:  No.  Traveling.  I was getting in a plane and she was--I was traveling so much, I guess, and she was too, that we were the last people to get on the plane because we wanted to minimize the flight time.  [Laughs]  She was wearing hiking boots, which was an made he interesting to me.  And she was quite beautiful too.
 
BRUNDLE:  So serendipity.
 
CAMPBELL:  Yeah, that’s right.  So I started talking about her brand new hiking boots she had on.  [Laughs]  And that led to our dating and eventual marriage.  Soon after that, she got a job offer at University of Washington, and by then I had told her that if she got a job offer at some place that was a comparable chemistry department to Indiana University and in a city that I liked as much, I’d see if they had a job.  I was lucky enough that they had a job that they were interested to hire me, and I’ve been at University of Washington ever since.
 
BRUNDLE:  So let me get it straight then.  So you went to Washington because she got the job.
 
CAMPBELL:  That’s right, yeah.  [Laughs]
 
BRUNDLE:  So you were the spouse who got the job there.
 
CAMPBELL:  Yeah, that’s right.  [Laughing]  That’s right.  It was a close call.  I called Tom Engel, who you know.  He’s an AVS guy.
 
BRUNDLE:  Oh, very well.  Yes.
 
CAMPBELL:  He was chairman of the department here at UW at the time, and I called him.  They were meeting like in two days to make the final recommendation of their academic personnel committee to the full faculty of the department about who they had selected as being the best candidate out of the pool of interviewees that they’d already had.  He said: “So if you can be here by Monday…”
 
BRUNDLE:  So really last minute!
 
CAMPBELL:  “We’ll postpone this meeting one week if you can be here by Monday for an interview,” and sure enough, I visited that Monday, and it worked out okay.  So I’ve been there since 1989.
 
BRUNDLE:  ‘89, ‘99—so 20…How long is that?  20…
 
CAMPBELL:  20 years or something.  Well, closer to 25, because my wife and I had a 25th anniversary recently.  Yeah, 26 years.  Yeah, that’s right.
 
BRUNDLE:  Yes.  Stuck with it, yes.  So I know something about your work, but not all of it.  But to me, for my interests, the most important thing that you did was making the supersensitive microcalorimeter.  Is that how you think about it as well, as the most important contribution?
 
CAMPBELL:  Yeah…I wouldn’t be surprised if this concept of the degree of rate control that I developed turned out to be the most important thing, and something that ends up in textbooks.
 
BRUNDLE:  Yes.  That’s the other thing which came later.  Yes, and now hear that referred to by a lot of theoretical people doing DFT stuff.  But how did you…I mean the microcalorimetry, that area I first knew of through Dave King because I was a fairly close friend of his at that time, and he introduced me to it.  But what you did was what, hundreds of times more sensitive?
 
CAMPBELL:  Yeah.  I mean, it depends on the temperature, but 100 times at the temperature where his instrument works the best.  More like 1000 times at low temperatures.
 
BRUNDLE:  So how did you come to that?  How did you come to it and he didn’t come to it?
 
CAMPBELL:  It’s really interesting.  With your IBM background, you’ll remember Hans Coufal there.
 
BRUNDLE:  Yes.  Yes, I do. He was in the same department as me.
 
CAMPBELL:  I had heard about his heat detector, and you know, he was working with another AVS guy, Harold Winters, from IBM.
 
BRUNDLE:  Oh yeah, I know Harold very well.  Yes.
 
CAMPBELL:  They were doing experiments together that were calorimetry experiments with this heat detector that Hans Coufal had developed.  They were doing things like shooting a laser at a surface or shooting a pulsed ion beam at a surface and measuring heat deposit from that.
 
BRUNDLE:  Yes, I knew about that work.
 
CAMPBELL:  And it was a polymer heat detector.  So Dave King had mentioned it…And this was some years before I heard about this, and it stuck in the back of my mind, right, that there was this polymer heat detector.  Then Dave King had this method and he was collecting photons with…And somebody had said this thing was supersensitive.  You know, it turns out that Coufal demonstrated that you could detect 10 picojoules of heat with that thing if pulsed in 10 nanoseconds, right, which was—
 
BRUNDLE:  But they were pursuing a different objective than your interests altogether?
 
CAMPBELL:  Yeah, exactly.  Exactly.  They weren’t interested in single crystal surfaces, you know.
 
BRUNDLE:  And I knew about that, and if I’d been smart, maybe I would have thought of it.  [Laughter] 
 
CAMPBELL:  You are smart.  No doubt of that.
 
BRUNDLE:  But I was there.  I mean…[Laughs]
 
CAMPBELL:  So anyway, I figured out…So Dave King had two heat detectors, right?  One was this thing where you blacken the back of the single crystal, and he collected the photons and did transient infrared optical pyrometry.  That’s kind of a low transducer efficiency.  Then the other is he put the single crystal directly onto something like lithium niobate or lithium tantalate or something that’s a pyro-electric material, which is also the basis for heat detection.  So I was thinking, “Wouldn’t it be nice if you could take your single crystal and just touch it…”  Oh.  Well, the trouble with Dave’s method of attaching the single crystal to the lithium niobate heat detector was that you have to anneal single crystals to get order, and with most things like platinum, you have to anneal them hotter than the lithium niobate can stand to get sufficient long-range order on the surface to get a good LEED pattern So it’s basic materials incompatibility.  I thought, “Wouldn’t it be nice if you could touch the lithium niobate heat detector to the back of the crystal, make your heat measurements, remove it, anneal the crystal?” and then I thought, “Well, what I need to do is find some sponge or something to put in between there that would transduce the signal.” 

Then somehow in the back of my mind, I remembered this thing about this polymer heat detector at IBM, and it turns out it was the same principle.  It was a pyroelectric material like lithium tantalate, lithium niobate, but flexible.  I invited HansCoufal out for a seminar in our department and picked his brain, and he gave me so many great ideas that day.  By the end of that week, I’d sort of figured out more or less what the design is for this thing.  But it works very well, and then many students did clever things after that to optimize the signal-to-noise ratio.  Capacitance comes into play there in the thing, and so we learned how to minimize the capacitance.  You had to still keep the capacitance where you need it to get the optimum signal from the heat we wanted to measure, but minimize the background signal due to other effects like temperature drift.
 
BRUNDLE:  So from this, you actually started collecting a lot of very good experimental numbers which related to catalysis reactions.
 
CAMPBELL:  Right.
 
BRUNDLE:  And then I guess you went on from there to your rate equation.
 
CAMPBELL:  Yeah, sort of.  They were sort of related.
 
BRUNDLE:  Were they in parallel or did they come—
 
CAMPBELL:  Yeah, they were parallel, and they really—
 
BRUNDLE:  They were in parallel.  Okay.
 
CAMPBELL:  This speaks for the importance of the review process in scientific publishing.  I had a referee who I think was Jim Dumesic.  I always thought it was Michel Boudart, but now I think it was Jim Dumesic because once I told him I thought it was Michel and he said, “Oh, I wouldn’t be so sure of that.”  [Laughing; unintelligible]  But I had published a paper that was an invited paper in a symposium in honor of Haldor Topsøe from the Topsøe Company in Denmark who funded a lot of catalysis research over the years and really helped Jens Nørskov get his start in catalysis.
 
BRUNDLE:  Yes, I know about that from Alan Luntz.
 
CAMPBELL:  At his 80th birthday symposium, the paper I wrote on my invited talk got reviewed, and the smart refereeasked:  how did I decide what was the rate determining step in a catalytic mechanism.  In the discussion part of the paper, I tried to articulate what I did, but that was a mental exercise that I did and had been doing for a long time (maybe since grad school).  It was very math-based, and by the time I figured out how to describe what I was doing mentally to this referee (as an addition to my manuscript), I ended up with this partial differential equation which defined something I decided  to call the degree of rate control.  This was quite a while back.  So it was 15 years [unintelligible].
 
BRUNDLE:  And this comes from the fact that early on, before your undergraduate, you already said you were very interested and good at maths.
 
CAMPBELL:  Yeah, that’s right.  I was good in math.  Chemical engineering makes you better in math.
 
BRUNDLE:  Yes.
 
CAMPBELL:  And in quantum mechanics.
 
BRUNDLE:  And in chemistry, sometimes people are not so good in maths, like me, for instance.  [Laughs]
 
CAMPBELL:  But p-chem, you take quantum and statistical mechanics and stuff, so you get better in math.  But I’ve always been able to see the math, and so I wrote down this differential equation, believe it or not, that defined the degree of rate control.  And you know, some big guns in catalysis had published papers about how you figure out what’s the rate determining step and stuff like that, and I’m pretty sure that my degree of rate control was the definitive way to do that much better than anything anyone else ever suggested, you know.
 
BRUNDLE:  So would these discussions include Nørskov when you were thinking about this?
 
CAMPBELL:  When I was thinking…wrote it?  No, I just more or less wrote it in response to a referee’s comments to try and address the thing.
 
BRUNDLE:  So do you work with the Nørskov group now?
 
CAMPBELL:  Yeah.  We recently published a couple of papers together, and one was how to extend that degree of rate control to screen high-throughput computational screening for catalyst discovery with, for example, density functional theory based numbers.
 
BRUNDLE:  Yes.  And I should imagine there’s a fair amount of interest out there in the industrial companies that…
 
CAMPBELL:  Yeah, that kind of stuff.  But the surface science of catalysis was successful enough that there’s almost…Every good chemical engineering department in the country has people who do experimental catalysis research and—or electrocatalysis or battery research (kind of related)—and theoreticians who do density functional theory sort of related stuff, much of which is catalyst discovery oriented. 
 
BRUNDLE:  I didn’t realize that.
 
CAMPBELL:  It’s a huge number of people now, and many publications in that area nowadays.  If you ever look at Jens Nørskov’s publications, and examine the numbers of citations they receive from all those chemical engineers, it’s truly unbelievable.
 
BRUNDLE:  I’ve known him for a number of years, so I see him occasionally.  But I don’t know too much about the work. 
 
CAMPBELL:  Let me mention our other collaboration with Jens, which is really I think probably the most important outcome of all these calorimetric measurements that we’ve made that you mentioned.  If you’re going to try to discover better catalysts, there’s just too many systems, too many different materials to measure the kind of things we measure on many of them, you know?  It’s just they’re very hard measurements to make, and so the best we can really do is make measurements that are benchmarks that help the guys that can do approximate quantum mechanics to test whether their approximations are accurate enough to do the job you want to do with the quantum mechanical calculations, you know.  So density functional theory is a case in point.  So recently, we published a paper where we compared  some of the most popular versions of density functional theory—functionals, they call them—of density functional theory with our experimental measurements and some other experimental measurements that other people did of the adsorption energies of molecules and molecular fragments on the surfaces.  This comparison shows there are some big problems with the accuracy of DFT if you want to use it for predicting reaction rates because a 20 kilojoule/mole error in the relative energy between a reactant in a transition state or a reactant and the product means many orders of magnitude error in the equilibrium constant or the rate constant, right?  And we found that the average error is considerable larger than 20 kJ/mol in the best DFT methods.  So there’s a lot of work to be done to make better DFT functionals.
 
BRUNDLE:  That’s still to be done.
 
CAMPBELL:  Yeah, that’s right.
 
BRUNDLE:  So that work, then, is largely on the theoretical side to be done?  They need to improve DFT to match the experiments.
 
CAMPBELL:  Yeah.  There are many excellent physicists who are working hard to develop new ways to do DFT, or to do quantum mechanics with something fast like DFT, that’s a little bit more accurate, actually.  Yeah.  So a factor of three in accuracy would make a huge difference.  I mean, already Jens and his protégés have demonstrated that you can get some good ideas in catalyst discovery that still have to be tested experimentally, but I think the success rate of getting good ideas would go up five orders of magnitude if you had a factor of three improvement in accuracy compared to current DFT.
 
BRUNDLE:  Really?  That much?  Wow.
 
CAMPBELL:  I’ll bet, yeah.  I think it would really of vast importance in not only catalysis research and catalysts discovery, but in computational discovery of many other classes of better materials.
 
BRUNDLE:  That’s the difference between never finding something good and finding something good.  [Laughing]  Yes, yes.
 
CAMPBELL:  I mean, I really think that computational discovery would…It’s already starting to dominate what’s done in academia, but I think it would really have impact and a lot of technologies would improve in a hurry if density functional theory were more accurate, if we had a version of density functional theory that were more accurate by a factor of three.  It would make a huge difference, not just in catalysis.
 
BRUNDLE:  I mean these are things listed in your achievements here, but these are…I mean I don’t know when this was written, but fairly recently.  But is there something new that you’re doing in the area?
 
CAMPBELL:  Well, I noticed at this meeting there was a whole day session today, I think, on atomic layer deposition, which is ALD.  I’m sure you’ve seen that.  It’s a well-known thing now [?].
 
BRUNDLE:  Oh, yeah.  From the industrial side that’s been fairly well established for several years and is a very important processing step.  Yes.
 
CAMPBELL:  Yeah, that’s right.
 
BRUNDLE:  So are you getting involved in that?
 
CAMPBELL:  Well, so we’ve invented a heat detector that works under ALD so we can measure the heat effects so that people can…just to facilitate basic research in understanding the mechanism of ALD processes and how it works.  It’s a high temperature process, so you have a real hot surface and you’re dosing one precursor in pulses and then another precursor in pulses.  Different chemistry happens in the first step and the second step, both of which are surface adsorption dissociation reactions and stuff.  So we just demonstrated we could measure calorimetry like we do for adsorption calorimetry, but during the ALD process, and get transient heat signals that have line shapes that reveal things about the kinetics.  And the integral heat signal tells you the total heat effect associated with each gas pulse.  So we’re excited about maybe making an impact in research on atomic layer deposition.
 
BRUNDLE:  Well, that’s a very big field and it has its own conferences.
 
CAMPBELL:  Yeah, that’s right.
 
BRUNDLE:  And in industry, it’s a major method in semiconductor production.  Yes.
 
CAMPBELL:  Then the other thing—
 
BRUNDLE:  So that’s moving out of catalysis and into a semiconductor technology.
 
CAMPBELL:  Yeah, just calorimetry for understanding it.  I will never be an expert in semiconductor science.  My forte is catalysis, where I feel I know the literature well enough to make real impact. 
Then the other new thing is catalysis related, but it’s kind of a tenuous connection.  But I think you’ll appreciate it because you were one of the early guys starting to do adsorption-related research on single crystals.  The reason we do single crystals is because it’s so homogeneous and you can actually do measurements.  When you measure a spectrum like you were doing when I first met you with XPS, you know that every species—in your case, oxygen atoms on nickel(100)—was in the same environment, and so you could really interpret the experimental results based on well-defined models of the surface sites.  But you know, it turns out that doing those kinds of experiments that we’ve done on metals and on silicon and on germanium so well are much harder to do in…
 
BRUNDLE:  For the record, we’re pouring some red wine.
 
CAMPBELL:  [Laughs]  Cheers!  They’re much harder to do…
 
BRUNDLE:  It will probably make some noise on the recording, so I’m going to say what it is.
 
CAMPBELL:  I’ll wait.  Yeah.
 
BRUNDLE:  There you go.
 
CAMPBELL:  Those measurements on single crystal surfaces are much harder to do on an oxide.  It’s just much harder to get such a well-ordered oxide surface, such that the defects, like step edges and so forth…or oxygen vacancies, don’t dominate what you’re seeing.  When you really want to measure chemistry on perfect, defect-free terrace sites so you can fully understand it.
 
BRUNDLE:  Well, it’s actually turned out to be much harder than we thought on single crystals before we added STM.  [Laughing]
 
CAMPBELL:  [Laughing]  That’s right.  Yeah, that’s right.
 
BRUNDLE:  Then we realized—or at least you could monitor the different terraces and the defects, and then you really do know what you’re doing.  But yes, it’s an order of magnitude worse on oxides.
 
CAMPBELL:  Yeah.  So I feel like we’ve gotten now, or we will within…Before I retire at least, for sure we’ll have a good benchmark of energies of adsorbed species on metals.  But for oxides, I’m scared that’s not going to be the case.  Simply it’s so hard to homogeneously produce the same adsorbate, and so when you do the calorimetry on it, can you really interpret it in terms of something?  Because quite frankly, the surface science research has dried up a lot in the world, and not as many people are putting adsorbates on any single crystal.  So there’s just not the literature you can go to read about oxide surface chemistry to know how to cleanly produce well-defined adsorbed species.  Let’s say I want to produce surface -OH on an oxide or on several different oxides and measure to see the heat of -OH formation differs between oxides, or the heat of formation of a methoxy species or a methyl group, you know—like the adsorbed intermediates in catalysis that are fragments—  On oxides surfaces, doing that is much harder than on metal simply because I cannot find the papers that describe how to make these species.  This is because the funding for surface science research in the USA dried up just at the time when surface scientists learned how to really study oxide surfaces very well.  It will hurt us in the long run that this was abandoned.
 
BRUNDLE:  Yes.  It’s kind of old hat to work now in surface science, because everything is now nano this and nano that…
 
CAMPBELL:  Yeah, that’s right.
 
BRUNDLE:  …which means you’ve got to go to small particles, not single crystals.  Yes.  [Laughing]
 
CAMPBELL:  So there’s this new class of materials that are called MOFs (metal organic frameworks).  They’re like single crystals in their homogeneity, but the surface is inside of them.  They have this giant—giant through the molecular scale.  I mean it’s sort of 3nm diameter pores that the molecules can go through to get to the surface sites on the inside of them.  The ones I work with have linkers that hold the ‘nodes’ (oxide nanoparticles) that I’m interested in together, and the linkers are things like fused benzene rings that I kind of consider as an inert carbon support or something.  Those fused benzene rings hold together these nodes, that are separated from each other by several nanometers.  But each node is identical, or maybe there are two different species of nodes or something, all of which are identical to each other, and they give x-ray diffraction.  These nodes are things like six molecular units of ZrO2, zirconia.  So Zr6O12 in a little nanosphere-like thing, and those have surfaces.  So if you get an adsorbate on those, it’s going to be the same on every node throughout the whole porous material
 
BRUNDLE:  Okay, yes.  So you resolve the problem of…
 
CAMPBELL:  Yes, we resolve the problem of having enough homogeneity, like on single crystal surfaces, but on a material that has high surface area- which has many advantages.
 
BRUNDLE:  …and getting enough to measure that it’s all the same.
 
CAMPBELL:  That’s right.  So I’m hoping that we can make some advances on getting benchmarks for computational catalysis on nanoparticles of oxides through doing studies of calorimetry on MOFs.  So that’s the other direction I’m going.
 
BRUNDLE:  So you’re obviously still very enthusiastic about new things.  When I look through this bio, you’ve supervised a huge number of students and post-docs, very active in other societies.  You received a number of awards from other societies, and you were chief editor of Surface Science for ten years, right?
 
CAMPBELL:  Right.
 
BRUNDLE:  That had to be a big job.  And now you’re chief editor of Surface Science Reports.
 
CAMPBELL:  That’s right, yeah.
 
BRUNDLE:  Does that take less time or more time?
 
CAMPBELL:  Much less.  Much less, yeah.
 
BRUNDLE:  Much less time.  Okay.
 
CAMPBELL:  There are sort of orders of magnitude fewer publications.
 
BRUNDLE:  Okay.  But you mentioned that you wanted this to be achieved by the time you retire, so when is that?  How far away is it?
 
CAMPBELL:  Oh, boy.  My wife keeps asking me that because she’s a little bit older than me.
 
BRUNDLE:  Because I still think of you as a young guy!  [Laughs] 
 
CAMPBELL:  I feel like it!
 
BRUNDLE:  You behave like one, too.
 
CAMPBELL:  But I don’t think for…Maybe ten more years or something like that, unless my memory starts going to hell, you know.
 
BRUNDLE:  Yes.  Well, this doesn’t help.  [Laughs]
 
CAMPBELL:  That’s right!  Fortunately, I mostly rely on my logic and always have, and it’s not that I don’t remember things very well.  Actually, it’s just that I can logic out in some ways.
 
BRUNDLE:  You can always work them out as you go along?
 
CAMPBELL:  Yeah.
 
BRUNDLE:  That’s certainly a great trait to have.  Okay.  So we’ve covered a lot of things here.  The other societies you’ve been involved in, are they chemistry, engineering?
 
CAMPBELL:  American Chemical Society mostly.  Yeah, I’d say that’s the dominant.  North American Catalysis Society is mostly engineers, but I go to their national meetings almost every year too, and many of their local meetings.  I also attend AIChE meetings, but that has started in recent years since I have had so many Chemical Engineering grad students in my group.
 
BRUNDLE:  I stopped going to chemistry societies years ago, so I don’t know North American Catalysis Society.  But they have a very strong presence in catalysis, I guess, in Europe.
 
CAMPBELL:  Yeah, yeah.  The ACS also has a new division called the Catalysis Division even.  Both societies have a lot of European members and invited speakers from Europe.
 
BRUNDLE:  Oh, I didn’t know that.
 
CAMPBELL:  Yeah.  But they have…My service, I did a lot of service to the American Chemical Society, and some to the AVS, but once you get started, if you’re doing one, it’s hard to have time to do both.  You kind of start and work your way up all the way through the ranks, and then you’re burned out and you don’t want to do it anymore because…[Laughing]
 
BRUNDLE:  So you’ve done that with the ACS as your major…
 
CAMPBELL:  Yes.  I was all the way up through chairman of one of the divisions of the ACS.
 
BRUNDLE:  Even though really you’re a chemical engineer!  [Laughs]
 
CAMPBELL:  Yeah, that’s right.
 
BRUNDLE:  Do they know that?  [Laughs]
 
CAMPBELL:  Yeah, they do.  But the ACS represents chemical engineers, too, actually, so it definitely embraces chemical engineers and has symposia that are entirely for chemical engineers.
 
BRUNDLE:  Okay.  Yes.  So we’ve been going maybe 50 minutes.  I don’t really have anymore questions.  One question we ask always is…Maybe I should have warned you before we turned this on so you could think about it.  Do you have any advice to young scientists either in general or in your particular area of science now?  Maybe because it’s different now than it was when we were young scientists, or whatever.
 
CAMPBELL:  I guess one is to do what your heart wants to do in your research.  Try to not let the vagaries of where the funding is guide you too much.  There was a time when…For example, when catalysis research was drying up very much, particularly the surface science of catalysis—almost all catalysis research, even pretty non-fundamental…and I wanted to do it.  I still felt in my heart that catalysis research was one of the ways we can solve environmental and energy problems.  I stuck with it, and catalysis research funding is now back way up.  So it’s hard to predict where funding is going to go, but I’ve found that things are a lot more fun to do and that you ultimately, I think, prove more capable at getting funding to do what you want to do if you just stick with what’s the most interesting thing to you. 
 
BRUNDLE:  Any particular in the area of your field surface science other than what you’ve talked about that you’re involved in?  Is there any other area you think is going to be really important that you’re not involved in?
 
CAMPBELL:  Well, in surface science related stuff?
 
BRUNDLE:  Yes.
 
CAMPBELL:  Gosh, there are so many things that are just beautiful stuff.  You go to these meetings and your head just swims with so many beautiful talks going on out there, things you wish you could get involved with.
 
BRUNDLE:  Yes.  The bio area seems…
 
CAMPBELL:  Yeah.
 
BRUNDLE:  But to me it’s so foreign, all the stuff that they do.  But it’s clearly got to come together at some point, right?
 
CAMPBELL:  Yeah.  Believe it or not, if you looked at my resume, I published quite a few papers with proteins and stuff like that over the years because I had good collaborators at the University of Washington.
 
BRUNDLE:  Oh yes, of course.  Buddy Ratner and his crew.  Dave Castner.  Yes, yes.
 
CAMPBELL:  Yeah, that’s right.  So I actually developed some tools that are used for research in biology.  I’m on the advisory board for a company that sells…
 
BRUNDLE:  So you are connected to that community.
 
CAMPBELL:  Yeah.  So I’ve paid some attention to that.
 
BRUNDLE:  It seems like Washington is a very good balance in different sciences there, all who work fairly closely together.
 
CAMPBELL:  Yes.
 
BRUNDLE:  What about things completely away from science?  I gathered from the way you met your wife in referring to the boots and what you said about Santa Fe you like hiking.
 
CAMPBELL:  Yeah, that’s right.  Tennis.
 
BRUNDLE:  Other things?  What do you do?
 
CAMPBELL:  The older I get, the more I become convinced that exercise is so important, right, staying fit and working up your body temperature to where you can relax yourself and things like that.  So I’ve worked on—
 
BRUNDLE:  It’s supposed to be the best thing for your mind as well.  Never mind all these mind games.
 
CAMPBELL:  I believe it, yeah.
 
BRUNDLE:  The best thing for keeping your mind in good shape is physical exercise instead of everything else.
 
CAMPBELL:  I agree with that.  So I do something.  I go over to the gym several times a week.  From my office, it’s just a few minutes’ walk over to the gym.  It’s mostly students working out over there, but I go do something light, upper body exercises with a lot of repetition, and try to keep my heart beating faster and faster, and some leg exercise.  After that I do something that’s tennis or I get on the elliptical machine if it’s bad weather or I jog.  Or that other day I rode my bicycle to work, and I ride my bicycle longish distances sometimes
 
BRUNDLE:  Do you still go to Santa Fe?
 
CAMPBELL:  Yeah.  My wife and I just love it there!
 
BRUNDLE:  So a whole range of things.  Do you still hike?
 
CAMPBELL:  Yeah. My wife and I go backpacking still and just did a backpacking trip this summer.  Some years ago we hiked the Pacific Crest Trail through the whole state of Wasington (over several separate trips).
 
BRUNDLE:  Wow.  Full pack out in the wilderness?
 
CAMPBELL:  Yeah, yeah.
 
BRUNDLE:  I can’t do that anymore.  [Laughs]
 
CAMPBELL:  Tent and stove and stuff like that, and all my fishing gear.  We’re lucky, you know.  My wife stays in good shape.  She’s a few years older than me, but she still manages to carry a backpack.
 
BRUNDLE:  Well, my wife’s always liked to do that as well, and she doesn’t have the knee problems that I have which is from running.  But both of us have really …We’ll go in the car and we’ll backpack in maybe a few miles.  That’s it.
 
CAMPBELL:  That’s enough to get away, though.  That’s wonderful.
 
BRUNDLE:  Yeah, so it is.  If you know the places, you can find them.  Okay.  So anything else you want to add?
 
CAMPBELL:  You know, I should add my debts to people.  I mentioned Mike White and Ertl in a scientific sense, but those guys were tremendous mentors, human beings.  My heart just goes out to them, you know.
 
BRUNDLE:  And they’re really good people as well.  Those two things don’t always go together—good scientists and good people, but they were.
 
CAMPBELL:  That’s right.  And I did sabbatical with Dave King and with Hans-Joachim Freund.  Those guys had a tremendously positive influence on the direction of my research and so forth, particularly Dave in terms of this calorimetry stuff.  In fact, I think you introduced me to Dave in Hawaii ages ago.  That introduction may have been what enabled my calorimetry discoveries, by golly!
 
BRUNDLE:  Could be.  Yes.
 
CAMPBELL:  At a Pac Chem meeting or something like that.
 
BRUNDLE:  I was certainly there at one with him.
 
CAMPBELL:  I think we bumped into each other in some bar that was kind of a dive.
 
BRUNDLE:  Very likely.  [Laughs]
 
CAMPBELL:  Do you remember that?  You and Dave had been drinking, I think, for a little while, and we--
 
BRUNDLE:  Well, Dave and I, we were good friends, at least back then, because we had common enemies.  We won’t take that any further.  [Laughter]
 
CAMPBELL:  But anyway, there was a bunch of people like that who I should thank, and some of the fellow grad students and collaborators…I mentioned Bill Rogers and Bruce Koel, but Wayne Goodman also.
 
BRUNDLE:  Oh, yes.
 
CAMPBELL:  Those people, as you know, because I watch how you enjoy your life with your friends in science, you know.  We’re lucky to work in a field where there are so many good people.
 
BRUNDLE:  We are.  When we were young, and obviously I was a little bit ahead of you, but we were in a new field, and I think it was easier for people then than it is now.
 
CAMPBELL:  Yeah, that’s right, especially the funding was much easier.
 
BRUNDLE:  Well, and partly because now all these new people have all these gray- and white-haired people like us sitting out there on top of them. 
 
CAMPBELL:  Yeah, still getting funding that should go to the younger people! [unintelligible].
 
BRUNDLE:  There was almost nothing like that when we started in surface science.
 
CAMPBELL:  Yeah, that’s right.  Yeah, yeah.  You were inventing the new directions to go.  That’s right, yeah.
 
BRUNDLE:  Yeah, and that’s one of the things I really like about the AVS because we all came together from different disciplines for meetings, and no other society had that back then in the mid ‘70s.
 
CAMPBELL:  Yeah, that’s right.  And IBM, I mean you guys had so many.  One of my favorite people in terms of having positive influence, too, on my science is Dan Auerbach, you guys I’m sure are good friends.
 
BRUNDLE:  Yes and Dan is here at the meeting.  He’s not staying, of course, because he lives here in San Jose, but he’ll probably be at the Awards on Wednesday night.
 
CAMPBELL:  Yeah.  Genius of a guy, too.
 
BRUNDLE:  Okay.  So congratulations again for the award.  Very well deserved.
 
CAMPBELL:  Thanks.


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