Thursday, February 14, 2008

Williams Receives Braun Prize

We are pleased to announce that Library friend Richard "Dick" Williams is this year's recipient of the Society for Information Display's Karl Ferdinand Braun Prize for an outstanding technical achievement in, or contribution to, display technology. After a year of researching materials that would provide an electro-optic effect appropriate for a flat-panel display, Dick discovered and demonstrated in 1962 the fundamental effect of a low voltage generating an optical effect in a thin film of liquid crystals between glass plates coated with transparent conductors. He applied for the basic patent on transmissive and reflective displays using liquid crystals and published three articles in 1963 on his discovery of what researchers now call Williams Domains. Out of his methodical experimentation and publication, stimulated by David Sarnoff's wish for a TV to hang on a wall, came the innovation of the LCDs all around us.

For an extensive history of the innovation of LCDs, see Hirohisa Kawamoto's article for IEEE Proceedings.
Dick is far more than a one-trick pony. If you encounter him on one of his walks in Princeton's Littlebrook neighborhood, you might offer your congratulations and then ask him how he taught himself enough Chinese to lecture for eight weeks in Ulan Bator, or how dust actually damages fine machinery, or how to spot meteorite craters in Brazil, or how we could slow global warming by freeing energy from coal without burning it. . . .

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