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2004 World Technology Awards Winners & Finalists

John William Goodby

Please describe the work that you are doing that you consider to be the most innovative and of the greatest likely long-term significance.

Professor Goodby is distinguished internationally for his research in the area of the chemistry of materials, particularly organic, metallo-organic, amphiphilic, oligomeric and polymeric materials. His research has focused principally on liquid crystals, complex fluids, and self-organising systems. Although liquid crystals have become the quintessential molecular electronic materials of our current era, John Goodby has been one of the principal protagonists leading research which has shown that liquid crystals pervade all classes of materials, and should be considered as a separate state of matter. The multidisciplinary environment of liquid crystals has enabled him to pioneer research and applications across a wide spectrum of activities, from physics and chemistry to biology, in the field of soft condensed-matter systems and nano-structured materials. His work on the structures and classification of smectic liquid crystals; the study of defects by optical microscopy; the effects of chirality in orientationally ordered fluids; non-linear effects such as ferroelectricity, antiferroelectricity and pyroelectricity in chiral smectic phases and their applications to displays and detectors; the alignment of liquid crystals by thermoplastic coatings, the study of the self-organisation of natural and synthetic glycolipids, and the synthesis and characterisation of supermolecular and dendritic liquid crystals have all yielded seminal contributions to science and industry.

In terms of the applications of his work to industry, most of his success has been in the area of the design and synthesis of novel materials for devices used to modulate light, particularly flat panel displays, light shutters and phase modulators. His team at Hull have developed materials suitable for applications in twisted nematic liquid crystal displays (TNLCDs) found in watches, supertwisted nematic displays (STN) found in monochrome mobile telephones, and vertically aligned nematic displays found in LCD-TV. However, Goodby’s principal work has been in the area of the development of ferroelectric and antiferroelectric liquid crystals for use in microdisplays, particularly liquid crystal over silicon (LCOS) devices. These devices are finding applications in areas such as real time imaging devices for use in the eyepieces of digital cameras, in projection devices working with collapsed optics to give flat panel displays, and in switchable holographic devices for 3D-TV and cad-disign. Through this work the company, Kingston Chemicals, was created to produce ferroelectric liquid crystals in bulk quantities for applications of microdisplays. Not only are the materials being developed by chemical companies, they are also being utilised in R&D and commercialization of devices by companies involved in the physics and electronics industrial sector.

In addition to electrooptic materials, Goodby has also been involved in the development of associated materials used in the construction of displays. In particular, he has been involved in the development of aligning materials for ferroelectric and antiferroelectric displays. For example, the use of thermoplastic polymers were developed in order to give epitaxial growth surfaces for smectic liquid crystals, required in processing procedures to produce displays.

Currently he has turned his attention to light modulators working outside the visible range, ie in the infra-red. Goodby is developing new materials that have high birefringences for use in the telecommunications sector for applications in the phase modulation of light. Many materials are currently being evaluated by SMEs and large companies for commercial applications in routers etc.

In a completely different vein, Goodby with his colleague Alan Hall have invented new UV cure materials based on dienes which undergo radical photo-cyclopolymerization to give network polymers that are competitive with conventional acrylate and methacrylate polymer systems. These materials are currently being developed as coatings, functional thin films and adhesives. The polymeric units themselves have been combined with electroactive materials to create network polymers exhibiting electroluminescence.

Brief Biography

Professor Goodby gained his PhD in Organic Chemistry from the University of Hull in 1977 (conferred 1978) under the guidance of Professor George Gray FRS CBE (winner of the Kyoto Prize). His PhD research work centred on the investigation of the liquid crystal phases that made up the then smectic state of matter. During this period Professor Goodby along with colleagues discovered a number of new mesophases, which can be essentially classed as new states of matter. After two years Post-doctoral work in collaboration with Professor Gray and Professor Leadbetter CBE (later Director of CERN), he joined Bell Laboratories, Murray Hill, in the USA (1979) where he eventually became Supervisor of the Liquid Crystal Materials Group. While at Bell Laboratories he was twice a winner of the Company’s Exceptional Contribution Awards.

Goodby returned to the UK in 1988 to take over managing the World-famous Hull Liquid Crystal Research Team from Professor Gray. Initially he was appointed in the University of Hull as a Reader in Industrial Chemistry, a post which was funded by the Standard Telephone Company (STC, later Nortel) and Thorn EMI. In 1990 he became a full Professor and Head of Organic Chemistry, and later he became Head of the Department of Chemistry (1999-2001). During his early period back in Hull he gained his second doctorate (Doctor of Science, DSc) for his thesis entitled: The Physical and Chemical Properties of Ordered Fluids. He was also made a Fellow of the Royal Society of Chemistry in 1989, and a Fellow of the Royal Microscopical Society in 1991.

Over the next 14 years his research team collaborated with the Ministry of Defence at the Royal Radar and Signals Establishment (subsequently known as DERA and then QinetiQ). In 1994 he was the first person to be made the Amersham International Research Fellow of the Royal Society (London), in 1996 he was the first recipient of the GW Gray Medal of the British Liquid Crystal Society, in 2002 he was awarded the Tilden Medal of the Royal Society of Chemistry, and in the same year he was awarded an Honorary Doctorate (ScD) by Trinity College, University of Dublin, Ireland. He was a visiting Professor of the University of Amiens, France, for four years, Research Advisor to the ERATO Project on the Nanostructuring of Liquid Crystals in Japan, and Consultant to the Navy Research Laboratories in Washington DC, USA.

Professor Goodby has published approximately 400 scientific papers in refereed journals, and he has been awarded approximately 50 patents in the areas of liquid crystals and polymers. He has written two textbooks; one on microscopy and structures of liquid crystals and the other on ferroelectric liquid crystals, their properties and applications. In 1998 he was an Editor of the acclaimed “Handbooks of Liquid Crystals - 3 volumes” published by VCH. He has given over 200 Plenary and Invited lectures across the world, and regularly gives training seminars in the UK and Europe.

Currently Professor Goodby is President of the International Liquid Crystal Society (over 1000 members in 55 countries), and Chairman of the British Liquid Crystal Society.