George William Gray
George William Gray CBE FRS (4 September 1926 – 12 May 2013) was a Professor of Organic Chemistry at the University of Hull who was instrumental in developing the long-lasting materials which made liquid crystal displays possible. He created and systematised the liquid crystal materials science, and established a method of practical molecular design. Gray was recipient of the 1995 Kyoto Prize in Advanced Technology.
Education and career
Born in Denny, Scotland, Gray was educated at the University of Glasgow and while working as an assistant lecturer at the University College in Hull (then part of the University of London) obtained his PhD in 1953.
He developed his academic career at the college, which became the University of Hull in 1954, from 1946 to 1990. He was appointed senior lecturer in 1960, Professor of Organic Chemistry in 1974, and GF Grant Professor of Chemistry in 1984. He remained an Emeritus Professor at Hull.
In 1973, in conjunction with the Royal Radar Establishment, he showed that 4-Cyano-4'-pentylbiphenyl possessed a stable nematic phase at room temperature. This compound and other long-lasting cyano-biphenyls made the twisted nematic display (LCD) popular. Gray wrote the first English book covering the subject of liquid crystals, "Molecular Structure and Properties of Liquid Crystals", published in 1962.
Gray was recipient of the 1995 Kyoto Prize in Advanced Technology and was made a Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1991. He was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1983, and in 1987 was awarded the Leverhulme Medal of the Royal Society. In 1979 he was awarded the Rank Prize for Opto-electronics and in 1996 the SID Karl Ferdinand Braun Prize. The University of Hull was the first university to be awarded the Queen's Award for Technological Achievement, in 1979, for the liquid crystal joint-development work. Gray has been a Director of the International Liquid Crystal Society. Members of the British Liquid Crystal Society honoured his achievements by establishing the George W. Gray Medal for contributions to liquid crystal research and technology.
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- David Dunmur & Tim Sluckin (2011) Soap, Science, and Flat-screen TVs: a history of liquid crystals, pp 201,221–5, Oxford University Press ISBN 978-0-19-954940-5
- "Liquid Crystal Displays (1973-1982)". Malvern Radar and Technology History Society. 2016.
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- The history of liquid-crystal displays, Hirohisa Kawamoto, Proceedings of the IEEE, Vol. 90, No. 4, April 2002
- G. W. Gray, K. J. Harrison, J. A. Nash "New family of nematic liquid crystals for displays" Electronics Lett. 9 (1973) 130
- Celebrating 40 years of LCD research, University of Hull