Charles “Chuck” Fadley, a pioneer in x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, died at his home in Berkeley on August 1 after several years of treatment for cancer. He held the positions of distinguished professor emeritus of physics at UC Davis, and Advanced Light Source professor and senior faculty scientist at the Department of Energy’s Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (Berkeley Lab), and worked until a few weeks before he passed away. He was 77.
Fadley was born and raised in Norwalk, Ohio. Soon after graduating from high school in 1959, he earned a bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
After obtaining a master’s in chemical engineering at UC Berkeley in 1965, Fadley switched from engineering to a Ph.D. program in chemical physics under the supervision of former Berkeley Lab Director David Shirley and completed his doctorate in 1970. It was with Shirley that he began experimental work in x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy, a technique that he helped to pioneer and had devoted much of his life to advancing.
As a graduate student at UC Berkeley, Fadley also designed and built the x-ray tube for the first experimental x-ray photoelectron spectrometer in the United States.
Fadley’s family and friends describe him as an adventurous person who loved to explore the world. He was a postdoctoral researcher in physics at Chalmers Institute of Technology (1970-71) in Sweden, and before he accepted his first academic appointment, he spent a year in Tanzania teaching physics at the University of Dar es Salaam. His first permanent academic appointment was in the department of chemistry at the University of Hawaii at Manoa, where he served for almost 20 years.
In 1990, he accepted a joint appointment as an Advanced Light Source professor at UC Davis and Berkeley Lab, where he remained for the rest of his career.
He was invited to more than 30 countries to share his work, and shepherded nearly 40 students to their Ph.D.s. Thirty-eight postdocs traveled from all over the world to work with him.
Although Fadley played a key role in major synchrotrons all around the world, his “home base” was Berkeley Lab’s Advanced Light Source (ALS), a DOE Office of Science User Facility that specializes in lower energy, “soft” x-ray light for studying the properties of materials. He made numerous contributions to the ALS and was a tireless ambassador in promoting this unique synchrotron.
In remembering Fadley, his peers cite a body of work that not only inspired his students and colleagues but left a legacy that has enhanced our ability to analyze the surfaces and interfaces of new materials and their combinations into new devices, work that has earned him numerous prizes in the United States and abroad.
“Indeed, Chuck Fadley is leaving a legacy of many pioneering contributions to the field of photoemission, his love for science, and support for his students, postdocs, and colleagues,” said Zahid Hussain, a former ALS division deputy for scientific support who is currently an affiliate in Berkeley Lab’s Materials Sciences Division. “He was not only a great mentor but a friend. I hope and wish we can keep his science legacy alive and remember all the great things he has contributed to society.”
“He was such a generous friend and a strong advocate of the ALS,” said Andreas Scholl, ALS division deputy for science. “We met about his new Approved Program proposal just a few months ago, and he was so enthusiastic about HAXPES—hard x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy—and how to continue the long collaboration between his group and so many of our scientists. His legacy will live on.”
Fadley developed many new uses for x-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), including angle-resolved XPS for surface depth profiling, photoelectron diffraction as a probe of atomic structure and magnetic order, and the use of soft x-ray standing waves to study buried interfaces. His most recent research combined photoelectron, x-ray emission, and x-ray absorption spectroscopies in studying surfaces and buried interfaces of magnetic materials, especially very thin nanolayers buried below surfaces. Understanding such nanomaterials is important for developing next-generation electronics for computers, memory storage devices, and other applications of nanotechnology.
“Chuck was one of the co-authors, together with Zahid Hussain, of the paper on the development of the Ambient Pressure XPS that put the ALS at the forefront of surface and interface science in ambient conditions, work that later continued on his side with the standing wave method of scanning x-ray fronts through an interface,” said Miquel Salmeron, a senior staff scientist in the Materials Sciences Division and adjunct professor of materials sciences and engineering at UC Berkeley.
“But more important perhaps is that Chuck was a great scientist, a true gentleman, and a great friend,” Salmeron added.
“This is the passing of a giant who was a friend and supporter of the ALS and the entire photoemission community. We will miss him,” said Eli Rotenberg, ALS program development lead.
Fadley is survived by his wife of 30 years, Susan Miho Nunes, whom he met in Hawaii; stepson Adam Woltag; granddaughters Ryo and Kea Woltag, to whom he has taught some of the wonders of physics; stepdaughter Susan Miuccio, her husband, Frank, and their son, Nick.
Memorial gifts may be made to UC Davis in support of the Katherine Fadley Pusateri Memorial Fund in Physics.