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Werner Haas, LCD Pioneer at Xerox, Dies at Age 79

By Joel Pollack and Andy Lakatos

With so much of today's LCD fabrication coming from Asia, it is easy to forget that the early R&D for LCDs was being done in the United States, France and Russia in the mid-1960s. Those of us who own a notebook PC, an iPod or an LCD HDTV can lose sight of the early shoulders that this technology stands upon today. Only 40 years ago, nematic LCDs did not operate at room temperature, and an LCD TV was but a distant dream. So too, we cannot easily recall the time when we didn't have today's digital printers.

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When we think of the most important technological inventors, we often think of theoreticians who approached problems through mathematical modeling. But often, some of the most important contributions came from creative minds that approached problems a very different way, such as Werner Haas. Haas, one of the pioneers in the LCD industry, died on March 30 of a heart attack in his Webster, NY home, at the age of 79. He was a prolific inventor at Xerox's Webster ResearchCenter, where many of the earliest innovations of the industry were developed, earning more than 50 U.S. patents. Between the short period of 1965 and 1972, a portfolio of more than 100 patents dealing with LCD materials and devices was generated under the leadership of Haas and his colleague, the late Jim Adams.

Haas led a life that had its share of stress, escaping Nazi Germany with his family in the mid-1930s as the Nazis rose to power. They traveled to Hungary, Czechoslovakia and Italy before settling in Portugal where Haas spent 20 years of his life, earned a masters in physics from the University of Lisbon, and met his wife, Maria, a romance-language student at the same university. Haas subsequently emigrated to the U.S. to seek opportunity that was not to be found in Portugal. As a young engineer, Haas was employed at Philco in Philadelphia before coming to Xerox's Webster Research Center. He retired from Xerox in 1994 as a Senior Research Fellow. Haas and his wife raised three sons: George, Rene and John.

Haas was a man with a well-tuned sense of humor and a gift for knowing people. He had insights and perspective on the developing LCD industry that had significant impact on Xerox R&D management. He delighted in every turn of events in the display industry and closely followed every new innovation, reading every publication as if it were the one that could save the world. His friends and colleagues found great comfort in a visit to his office, which was always stacked high with publications and copies of technical papers.

Haas was an inspiration to both of us and so many of his colleagues at Xerox. His expressions and sense of humor have stuck with so many of us for years. He would say, "Science is not a potato," meaning that unlike the highly complex nature of living things, the science of display materials and the technology of display devices could be understood if one only chose to do the proper experiments and measurements. He dedicated his life to doing just that.

When Haas began his research on LCDs in 1965, LCD technology was barely more than a laboratory curiosity. At that time, the key interest was in the enormous variety of LCD textures and alignments, rather than TN with an active matrix backplane. His lab at Xerox was filled with vials of LCDs, cell samples and a variety of optics to examine what he had found.

In the early days, the proper application for LCDs was far from obvious, and we all grappled for the best way to use these unique materials. At that time, cholesteric LCDs played a bigger role than nematic LCDs. One such device, using the cholesteric LCDs developed at Xerox, was referred to as the Thermally Induced Transition. As a very hefty laser was scanned across the surface, one could heat the material and change the texture from a scattering focal conic texture to a Grandjean nonscattering texture. When Xerox's top management came through for the critical demo, Haas was sarcastically asked if he was developing blackboards for Eskimos. Needless to say, this was not one of the ideas that went far. To his credit, comments of this nature didn't discourage him from pursuing the next good idea, and out of this work came some of the industry's earliest optical light valves. Perhaps one of the lessons many of us learned from Haas was the value of persistence and patience.

We must relate a story about the first 10-inch TFT LCD. Peter Brody and Fan Luo at Westinghouse made the very first large-area TFTs using CdSe and sold one sample to Xerox for the tidy sum of $50,000, which in 1972 was worth far more than today's $50,000. We set up the precious panel in Haas's lab, but neither he nor any of the rest of us had the courage to turn it on for fear we would wreck it. Literally months passed until any of us had the nerve to turn it on, but this was the precursor to Xerox's investment in the development of TFT backplanes, 5 years later.

Due to shifting corporate business priorities at Xerox, none of the early LCD patents were commercially developed nor enforced by the company. In 1973, Haas entered the equally exciting world of high-speed inkjet printing. His efforts in the early '70s contributed to Xerox's development of a synchronous multi-jet, high-speed printing device with perfor-mance far beyond the inkjet machines used today.

It was not until 1979 that Haas reentered LCD R&D activities at Xerox, but this time as a senior advisor to the newly formed LCD development team, which was also part of the pioneering Large Area Electronics Facility at the Webster Research Center.

Haas also worked on advancing the performance capabilities of electrophotographic or xerographic printers. A two color or highlight color high-speed printer was developed in collaboration between Haas' group in research and another group in engineering. This became a very successful Xerox product throughout the '80s and '90s.

Haas served the display and electronic printing industries well with his years of hard work and leadership. He had remarkablescientific insight into complex problems. With a very high rate of success, he was able to differentiate those problems which could be solved from those where the barriers to be overcome were out of reach.

He was a Fellow of both the SID and of the IS&T (Imaging Science and Technology). During the '80s as Engineering and then Conference VP of the IS&T he was a key driving force for establishing IS&T as the leading professional society in printing technologies. Few people have contributed so significantly in so many different ways over such a long tenure to both displays and electronic printing. He will be greatly missed by many for his incredible humor, his outlook on life, and for the inspiration that he offered to many of us who endeavored to turn LCD displays and electronic printing technologies into today's very profitable businesses.


Joel Pollack is the President and CEO of Clairvoyante Inc., which was recently sold to Samsung. Andy Lakatos is the editor of theJournal of the Society for Information Display.

 

3M to Headquarter Optical Systems Business in Asia

ST. PAUL, Minn. - 3M announced March 19 that it will headquarter its Optical Systems business in North Asia, effective immediately, as part of the company's overall strategy to accelerate growth by moving closer to customers.

"The move will improve 3M's ability to respond to LCD panel customers more quickly in this fast-paced market and helps ensure long-term sustainable success for our enduring franchise," said Mike Kelly, executive vice president, 3M Display and Graphics. "As the pioneer of microreplicated and multilayer brightness enhancement films, 3M is committed to protecting and building the optical film business over the long term."

In this fast-paced industry, headquartering the business in Asia will further improve customer intimacy and response rates. 3M announced last fall that its LCD optical film business would undergo a transition to expand its product offering beyond high performance, high price films to include basic performance, competitively priced films for all segments of the LCD industry.

Jim Bauman will be the new vice president and general manager for 3M Optical Systems Division. Bauman has held leadership positions for 3M in Thailand, Electro and Communications in Austin, and most recently, as vice president and general manager for the Automotive Division in St. Paul. While Bauman will manage the division from North Asia, business operations will continue to be deployed globally.

3M's optical films are used to make electronic displays, such as LCD TVs, laptops and cell phones, significantly brighter than displays without enhancement films, more energy efficient and more vibrant in real-life lighting conditions by optimizing and recycling light. By enabling vivid, lifelike pictures in environments ranging from natural daylight to a darkened room, optical films from 3M offer consumers more flexibility to use their electronic devices in a variety of locations.

— Staff Reports

 

Kodak Signs OLED Cross-License Agreement With LG Display for Use in Next-Generation Portable Media Devices

ROCHESTER, N.Y - Eastman Kodak Co. announced on March 14 an intellectual property cross-licensing agreement with LG Display Co. Ltd. of Korea. The license, which is royalty bearing to Kodak, enables LG Display to use Kodak technology, including yield-improving capabilities for Active Matrix OLED (AMOLED) modules, in a variety of small to medium size display applications such as mobile phones, portable media players, picture frames, and small TVs. The agreement also enables LG Display to purchase Kodak's patented OLED materials for use in manufacturing displays. Financial terms of the agreement were not disclosed.

"We are pleased with the opportunity to expand our relationship with LG Display beyond the Joint Evaluation Agreement we announced in February 2006," said Mary Jane Hellyar, President, Kodak Display Business, and Executive Vice President, Eastman Kodak Co. "As we said during our recent investor meeting, OLED is an important technology that will help fuel Kodak's future growth. Our goal is to see AMOLED panels that have been co-developed continue to appear in the industry during 2008."

"AMOLED is the newest generation of display technology and will compete in the full spectrum of size ranges," said Andrew Sculley, General Manager and Vice President, Kodak's Display Business. "AMOLED technology offers superior product performance, and ultimately low-cost manufacturing advantages. We're proud and pleased that LG Display has chosen to incorporate our OLED technology to power a variety of innovative new consumer display products."

Hyun He Ha, Executive Vice President and Head of Small & Medium Displays Business Unit at LG Display, said, "The agreement will help strengthen our small and medium size OLED business, and bolster our position in the large OLED market in the long run. We expect the win-win relationship to create vast synergy for the OLED business of both companies."

The agreement with LG Display is the latest in a series of moves that Kodak has made as the company commercializes its innovative OLED technology. Recently, KAGA Electronics of Japan announced plans to introduce the world's thinnest, lightest portable 1-Seg television featuring a full-color, 3.0-inch OLED display utilizing Kodak's AMOLED technology, which includes Kodak's patented Global Mura Compensation that provides overall yield improvement. The KODAK ELITE VISION AMOLED 1-Seg TV was co-developed by Kodak, LG Display, KAGA Electronics and Andes Electronics and will be available in Japan by the end of March 2008.

Pioneered by Kodak in the late 1980s, OLED technology and its practical applications have generated more than 1,900 Kodak patents and patent applications worldwide. Benefits over conventional technologies include higher contrast, fast response time that can deliver blur free video motion, industry-leading (180 degree) viewing angle, thinner design for better ergonomics, and potentially lower unit cost of manufacturing.

— Staff Reports