Rich Louie

Professor of Physics


Office Location: Rieke Science Center - 249

  • Professional
  • Biography


  • Postdoctoral fellowship (2 summers), Non-Destructive Evaluation of Materials Division, NASA Langley
  • Postdoctoral research fellow (3 summers), Physics; Materials Science, University of WA - Seattle
  • Ph.D., Applied and Engineering Physics, Cornell University (Dissertation title: "Point Contact Spectroscopy With Nanofabricated Junctions Of Spin And Energy-Dependent Transport In Heterogeneous Ferromagnetic Systems." Advisor: Professor R. A. Buhrman)
  • M.S., Physics, Cornell University
  • A.B., magna cum laude, Physics, Harvard University

Areas of Emphasis or Expertise

  • Atomic force microscopy; Materials characterization
  • Thin film deposition; Nanofabrication
  • Ultralow temperatures, Vacuum techniques

Selected Presentations

  • Society for Experimental Mechanics Annual Conference, Nanomanipulation and Lithography for Carbon Nanotube Based Nondestructive Evaluation Sensor Development, Milwaukee, Wisconsin. (2002)
  • Materials Research Society, Nanocontact Measurements of Electron Spin Filtering and Spin Transport, San Francisco, CA (1999)
  • PLU Physics Department Seminar, Atomic Force Microscopy, Carbon Nanotubes, and the Imaging of Protein Binding Sites in DNA, Tacoma, WA (1998)
  • Materials Research Society Spring Meeting, Nanocontact Measurements of Electron Spin Filtering and Spin Transport, San Francisco, CA (1996)

Selected Articles

  • Louie, Rich. "Fast Electronic Switching of Ultrathin Films of Phase - Change Materials Renders Nonvolatile Color Changes." Materials Research Society Bulletin Vol. 39, Number 9, 2014: 760-761.
  • Crooks, Roy; Louie, Rich; Namkung, Min; Smits, Jan; Wincheski, Buzz. "Response of Fe Powder, Purified and As-Produced HiPco Single-walled Carbon Nanotubes to Flash Exposure." Materials Science and Engineering Vol. 38, Number 1, 2003: 384-389.
  • Louie, Rich. "Nanomanipulation and Lithography: The Building (and Modeling) of Carbon Nanotube Magnetic Tunnel Junctions." NASA Contractor’s Report 2002:
  • Barry, K.A.; Bush, M.G.; Fain, S.C.; Louie, R.N.; Pittenger, B. "Measuring Average Tip-sample Forces in Intermittent-Contact (Tapping) Force Microscopy in Air." Applied Physics Letters Vol. 76, 2000: 930-932.
  • Buhrman, R.A.; Louie, R.N.; Katine, J.A.; Myers, E.B.; Ralph, D.C. "Current-Induced Switching of Domains in Magnetic Multilayer Devices." Science Vol. 285, 1999: 867-870.


  • Diversity Advocate Award (PLU Diversity Center), 2004
  • Winner, American Society for Engineering Education Best Research Presentation Competition, NASA Langley Research Center, 2001
  • PLU Center for Teaching and Learning Faculty Teaching Award, 2000
  • Cornell University Clark Teaching Award, 1992
  • Department of Education Fellowship, 1992-1994
  • History paper published in the Harvard College Forum (The Academic Review), Volume 5, 1989

Professional Memberships/Organizations


My research interests are plasma etching issues, carbon nanotubes and scanning probe microscopy. I have published papers from postdoctoral work at NASA Langley and the University of Washington. I was also the lead faculty consultant (physics) with an educational software company, Kinetic Books/Perfection Learning.

My previous research includes the following projects:

  • NASA Langley Research Center: detection of buried flaws around rivets in airplane skins using eddy currents, carbon nanotube conduction and their use in a magnetic tunnel junction.
  • NF3-etched GaAs using XPS (X-ray Photoelectron Spectroscopy) in collaboration with Professor Fumio Ohuchi in the Department of Materials Science at the University of Washington. Related the electrical and structural damage in materials – such as silicon and gallium arsenide – to their Raman spectra, which are obtained by laser light scattering measurements. The Raman measurements tell us something about the mean free path for phonons (excitations in the lattice with quantized energies), which in turn tell us about the defect density.
  • Atomic force microscopy in collaboration with the late Professor Sam Fain in the Department of Physics at the University of Washington. Using PLU’s scanning electron microscope, I obtained a micrograph of an atomic force microscope tip to which I had attached a carbon nanotube. We successfully imaged a hard silicon grid with it, but it did not out-perform conventional tips in imaging DNA.