Business News | Nov 25, 2010

LED and Laser Diode Patent Holder Gertrude Neumark Rothschild Died

Gertrude Neumark Rothschild, Howe Professor Emerita of Materials Science and Engineering, passed away on November 11, 2010, after a long illness. She was 83. The cause was heart failure.

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.

One of the world's foremost experts on doping wide band-gap semiconductors and the first woman to hold a named chair in Columbia University's Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science, she holds a number of patents on wide-band-gap semiconductor technology.

In the 1980s, Professor Rothschild taught materials science and engineering at Columbia University, and began studying the optical properties of wide bandgap semiconductors.While at Columbia, she conceived the doping process that has been the basis of new short-wavelength LEDs, which emit blue, green, violet and ultraviolet light, which were much more energy efficient, reliable and long-lived. This was an important breakthrough for devices improving the quality of consumer products ranging from flat screen TVs to mobile phone screens, traffic lights, instrument panels, multicolor displays and numerous other lighting applications. Her patented processes in laser technology led to blue and shorter-wavelength lasers, with improvements that range from increasing sharpness of a laser printer to increasing the information storage capacity of a DVD

In 2008, Philips Electronics created a Professorship in Columbia's Department of Applied Physics and Applied Mathematics in The Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science in honor of Professor Rothschild's pioneering role as a woman engineer. Dr. Neumark received an honorary degree from Columbia University in 2008 and was selected as a recipient of Barnard's Distinguished Alumna Award for 2008 for her outstanding achievements in materials science and engineering.

In March 2008, she filed a patent infringement law suit to block companies such as LG Electronics, Nokia, Pioneer, Samsung, Sanyo, Sharp Electronics, Sony Ericsson Mobile and Toshiba from importing such products into the US (See LED professional IP news from March 26, 2008). She subsequently signed licensing deals with a number of companies named in the case, as well as others that had not been specifically mentioned (see LED professional IP news from April 10, 2008, April 17, 2008, April 23, 2008, May 09, 2008)

The newsletter Law 360 published in August that she received about $27 million from more than 40 companies in all.

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.

She is survived by her husband, Henry Rothschild, a former commodities trader at Philipp Brothers, now retired.