The Official Biography
(from the Foreword of the first edition compendium,
A Life of Creativity)
by Louis Lerman, Jacqueline Teng
We, as visual creatures, are fundamentally dependent on our sense of sight to comprehend the world around us. We use phrases such as, “I see!” or “shedding light” on a topic, or icons of old-fashioned light bulbs to indicate a “bright” idea. The core of our imagery and metaphor for thought, discovery, epiphany, and realization all have a fundamental relationship with light and vision.
And then there are descriptors such as “visionary” – one marked by foresight and imagination – and “luminary” – a person who inspires or influences others, or a body that gives light. Both seem to have been tailored for Roland in every sense and shading of the words. After all, through his insight, vision, actions and guidance, he literally helped to bring a new light to the world.
Presented here are snapshots of some of the seminal moments in his remarkable journey. His official biography as researched by the noted writer Bob Johnstone and ourselves follows the broad strokes of his life, from its modest beginnings on a farm in WWII Germany and onward through a storied career. Jeff Tsao, a long-time collaborator of Roland’s, provides an up-close and personal view of his professional life in solid-state lighting.
We also selected two of Roland’s papers to excerpt here. The first is the well-known collaborative white paper that was the first public cry-to-arms for an SSL revolution. The second is based on an unprinted segment of a recently published Annalen der Physik article – a magnificent historical technical perspective on the 2014 Nobel Prize for solid-state lighting. (The published piece was written by Roland, Jeff, and friends and printed alongside the official addresses of the three Nobel recipients.) These two papers stand as brilliant bookends to both Roland’s career and the rise and establishment of the SSL industry.
Roland had been an eager and enthusiastic explorer; actively inventing, analyzing, and critically observing into his last days. Truly, he deserved the titles of “luminary” and friend. He is sorely missed.