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Philips Electronics Honors
Professor Gertrude Neumark
Dr. Gertrude F. Neumark, the first woman to hold a chaired professorship at Columbia University's Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science, is the reason a new professorship is being established at the School. Philips, the international electronics company headquartered in The Netherlands, established an endowed fund, the newly-created Philips Electronics Professorship Fund, in the School's Department of Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics in honor of Professor Neumark's pioneering role as a woman engineer. Professor Neumark was employed by Philips Laboratories in Briarcliff Manor, NY, between 1960 and 1985.
“Gertrude Neumark's intellectual and academic contributions and her many years of commitment and support of the School enable us to remain prominent in the area of applied physics,” said Interim Dean of SEAS Gerald A. Navratil. “She is truly one of the pioneers who has helped build our legacy.”
The Philips Electronics Professorship is to be held by a tenured faculty member and consideration will be given to a member who is from a group that is underrepresented on the SEAS faculty with a view toward increasing the diversity of the School, as Professor Neumark did at the time of her appointment as Howe Professor of Materials Science in 1999. Dean Navratil said, “We know the incumbent will be inspired by the example of Gertrude Neumark.”
Dr. Neumark said, “I am particularly pleased that the Philips Electronics Professorship will give one member of an underrepresented group an opportunity to receive tenure.” Dr. Neumark is one of the world's foremost experts on doping wide band-gap semiconductors. It was during her research work at SEAS that she conceived the doping process that has been the basis for devices improving the quality of consumer products ranging from flat screen TVs to mobile phone screens.
“Columbia revitalized my research and really gave me a second career,” says Dr. Neumark, currently a research scientist and Howe Professor emerita. “I find the environment extremely stimulating.” She credits Columbia with providing the creative environment that led to her patents in doping wide band-gap semiconductors.
Doping is the process of adding impurities to semiconductors to provide better conductivity. There are two types of dopants, one with one more valence electron than the host (donors), and the other with one less (acceptors). Dr. Neumark realized that better doping could be obtained by “tricking” the semiconductor by incorporating both types of dopants together, but selecting the type that was not desired to be a relatively mobile impurity, and then subsequently removing it.
Moreover, she also realized that this method would be applicable to any wide band-gap material. It was precisely this approach that resulted in the successful development of green and shorter-wavelength lasers and LEDs using gallium nitride and related nitrides. For a number of years, obtaining efficient blue and green light emissions from semiconductor devices was regarded as the “holy grail” in this area.
Commercial uses for blue and shorter-wavelength lasers range from increasing sharpness of a laser printer to increasing the information storage capacity of a DVD. The significant advantage of these diode lasers lies in their wavelength. “The space needed to store information is proportional to the square of the wavelength,” said Dr. Neumark, “so the shorter the wavelength, the greater the information that can be stored in the same space.”
In addition to these lasers, her patented processes led to blue and ultraviolet LEDs (light-emitting diodes), which are now used for computers, traffic lights, instrument panels, as the background color for mobile-phone screens, in multicolor displays, flat screens and in numerous other lighting applications.
Dr. Neumark graduated summa cum laude from Barnard College in 1948, received an M.S. in chemistry from Radcliffe in 1949, and, in 1951, received a Ph.D. in chemistry from Columbia's Graduate School of Arts and Sciences. Dr. Neumark was recently selected as a recipient of Barnard's Distinguished Alumna Award for 2008 for her outstanding achievements in materials science and engineering. The Barnard Awards Committee noted she was being honored as an alumna who personifies the ideals of a liberal arts education and who has achieved distinction for her role in the development of blue lasers and light-emitting diodes.
She was elected a Fellow of the American Physical Society in 1982, and has been a panelist for the National Research Council. She is one of 83 women whose work appears on the archival website maintained by UCLA entitled, “Contributions of 20th Century Women to Physics.” She is also listed in Who's Who in America, Who's Who in Science and Engineering, and American Men and Women of Science. She is the author of more than 140 publications and a contributor to McGraw-Hill Yearbook of Science and Technology.
Joint Announcement by Columbia and Philips
Columbia University and Philips are pleased to announce that Philips has established an endowed fund that shall be used to support the newly-created Philips Electronics Professorship in Columbia's Department of Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics in The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science. Philips' contribution is being given in honor of Professor Gertrude Neumark Rothschild's pioneering role as a woman engineer. Dr. Neumark Rothschild is a current member of the Columbia faculty who was employed by Philips Laboratories between 1960 and 1985.
The Professorship will be held by either a newly or recently tenured faculty member, and may either be someone currently on the faculty or someone recruited to the position with consideration given to a candidate's status as a member of a group that is underrepresented on the faculty of the School of Engineering and Applied Science, so long as such consideration is in keeping with Columbia's goal of obtaining the benefits of diversity.