Richard Leslie Freeman was born January 24, 1942, in Wichita Falls, Texas, to Sigfried Harold and Irene Massuy Freeman. His father, Sigfried, born in Michigan, was a grain inspector. Richard grew up in La Marque, Texas and graduated valedictorian at La Marque High School in 1960. Richard entered the University of Texas at Austin and earned a BS in 1964. In 1966, Richard married Patricia Ann DeVries in Tarrant County, Texas. He received his PhD in physics at UT in 1968. His dissertation was entitled, "Experimental Study of Resonance Loading in a D.C. Discharge." He next accepted a two-year postdoctoral position at the Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory. In 1970, he took, a position at Culham Laboratory in Abington, UK, at the Culham Center for Fusion Energy. At Culham, Richard and E. M. Jones published in 1974 a much-cited Culham Report, "Analytic Expressions for Selected Cross-sections and Maxwellian Rate Coefficients", Atomic Collision Processes in Plasma Physics Experiments, Culham Report-R-137, 1974. These expressions were obtained for atomic and molecular hydrogen, the alkali metals, the rare gases, calcium and magnesium. They were used widely in modeling a variety of plasma devices.
In 1974, Richard moved to General Atomic (GA) in San Diego, CA. At GA, he contributed to the design of and participated in many experiments on multiple generations of tokamaks, including ultimately DIII-D, one of the premier U. S. fusion research machines. At the same tim,e he held a number of General Atomic management positions. Much of this work was in the areas of radio frequency plasma heating and current drive employing electron cyclotron, lower hybrid and ion cyclotron waves.
In 1998, Richard, with Tihiro Ohkawa and other colleagues, left GA to found Archimedes Technology. Richard served as its Chief Technology Officer.. The company's mission was to develop a plasma mass filter to mitigate the problem of nuclear waste storage by isolating highly radioactive/low volume components of the waste. The company was granted a variety of patents associated with the technology. A demo device was constructed and operated. The company ceased n 2006 due to lack of federal fundings. More recently, a Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory proposal has renewed interest in the fundamental idea.
Throughout his career, Richard remained devoted to the University of Texas Physics Department, serving a number of terms on the department's advisory committee.
Richard started his happy retirement in 2006. His hobbies included golf, tennis and a great love of poker. Throughout his years of scientific life, Richard’s bright, friendly, unflappable personality made him a colleague cherished by all. Richard died on December 29, 2018, at his home in Del Mar, CA. He is survived by his wife Pat; their son, Mark and his wife, Shari; their daughter, Karen and her husband Tom; and grandsons, Nathan and Nolan.
Acknowledgements: Many thanks to Mark Freeman, Karen Freeman Landers and Robert Miller for information and photos used in this tribute to Richard.
Richard L. Freeman Photos