Dr. Frederic J. Kahn is an early pioneer in Liquid Crystal Displays, He developed some of the original LCD technology for Hewlett Packard calculators. Currently President of Kahn International, he recognized early on the unique physical properties of liquid crystals and their applicability to a broad range of direct-view (flat-panel) and projection displays, as well as to related printing and electronic component manufacturing systems. He has consistently and successfully followed up and built upon that vision with major contributions to the development of commercial enterprises based on information-display technologies.
At the NEC Central Research Laboratory in Kawasaki, Japan, from 1968 to 1969, he proposed and initiated NEC’s liquid-crystal-display R&D, including invention of a field-effect color-change LCD. Starting in 1970, at Bell Telephone Laboratories in Murray Hill, New Jersey, he initiated Bell Labs’ LCD R&D; advanced the understanding and control of LC molecular alignment on solid substrates; invented and was the first to publicly disclose (June 30, 1971) a vertically aligned nematic (VAN) LCD that reorients in a preferred direction at low voltage and which, after three decades of additional development and invention by subsequent workers, is now used in most flat-panel LCD TVs and high-performance LCD projectors; and invented and developed high-resolution LCD projection imaging devices and systems based on laser-addressed smectic-A LCDs.
While Kahn was a project manager for liquid-crystal displays at Hewlett-Packard Laboratories in Palo Alto, California, he led the development of multiplexed TN-LCD technology, which led to HP’s first LCD calculator products, including the best-selling HP 12c business calculator, introduced in 1981 and still sold today (2010). He also developed 40-character multiplexed dot-matrix alpha-numeric LCDs for portable computers and a computer-interactive high-resolution C-sized engineering drawing display. As department manager for optical materials and polymers and later for storage physics, he also led optical-fiber, IC-lithography, and erasable-optical-memory programs.
Kahn founded Greyhawk Systems in Milpitas, California, in 1984 and served as VP Technology, with operational responsibility for LC light-valve development and manufacturing, as well as for new systems and applications development based on IR laser-addressed smectic-A and real-time photo-addressed (CRT and active-matrix) a-Si LCD projection technology. Greyhawk’s products included 7.5-Mpixel 40-in. D and 37.5-Mpixel 144-in. D full-color displays (Softplot and LAD, respectively), an 8.4-Mpixel professional short-run color printer (Ilford Digital Photo Imager), and a 31.5-Mpixel printed-circuit-board exposure and development system (DuPont Seriflash).
According to Dr. S. T. Wu at the College of Optics and Photonics at the University of Central Florida, “Dr. Kahn has made significant scientific and technological contributions in liquid-crystal alignment, especially single-domain vertical alignment, which laid down the foundation for today’s liquid-crystal–on–silicon projectors (commercialized by Sony and JVC), thermally addressed electrically erased high-resolution smectic liquid-crystal light valves, and pitch dilation of cholesteric liquid crystals, just to name a few.”
Dr. Kahn has 18 issued U.S. patents and is the author or editor of over 40 technical publications. He has been a Fellow of SID since 1981. In 2011 he received the Karl Ferdinand Braun Prize, the highest honor of the Society for Information Display (SID) for his “contributions to the research, development and commercialization of liquid crystal displays.”
He has been General Chairman or Program Chairman of six international display conferences sponsored by SID, SPIE, and/or IEEE. He has also served as an SID International Officer (Secretary) and is currently a member of the SID Display Industry Awards Committee and the SID Display Week Program Committee. His current work includes intellectual property and high leverage consulting activities.
Filmed at the SID Display Week tradeshow.
SID disclaimer: Opinions and facts presented by the interviewee are their own and do not represent SID’s views or opinions and are not corroborated by SID.