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Wolfgang Helfrich (born 25 March 1932) is a German physicist and inventor recognized for his contributions to twisted-nematic liquid crystal technology, which is used to produce a variety of modern LCD electronic displays.
Helfrich studied physics in Munich, Göttingen, and Tübingen. Helfrich joined RCA in 1967, became interested in Charles-Victor Mauguin's twisted structure, and thought it might be used to create an electronic display. However, RCA showed little interest, because they felt that any effect that used two polarizers would also have a large amount of light absorption, requiring it to be brightly lit.
In 1970, Helfrich left RCA and joined the Central Research Laboratories of Hoffmann-LaRoche in Switzerland, where he teamed up with Swiss physicist Martin Schadt, a solid-state physicist. Schadt built a sample with electrodes and a twisted version of a liquid-crystal material called PEBAB (p-ethoxybenzylidene-p'-aminobenzonitrile), which Helfrich had reported in prior studies at RCA, as part of their guest-host experiments.
- Liquid Crystals of One- and Two-Dimensional Order - Berlin, Heidelberg : Springer Berlin Heidelberg, 1980
- Raumladungsbegrenzte und volumenbestimmte Ströme in organischen Festkörpern - Munich 1967
- Space-charge-limited and volume-controlled currents in organic solid - Munich 1967
- Raumladungsbeschränkte Ströme in Anthrazen als Mittel zur Bestimmung der Beweglichkeit von Defektelektronen - Munich 1961
- Untersuchungen an raumladungsbeschränkten Defektelektronenströmen in Anthrazen - Munich 1961
- 2008 IEEE Jun-ichi Nishizawa Medal
- 2012 Sackler Prize
- 2012 Charles Stark Draper Prize for Engineering