James E. West Receives IRI's 1998 Achievement Award

Article ID: 235

Released: 27-Oct-1998 12:00 AM EST

Source Newsroom: Alcatel-Lucent Bell Labs

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Donna Cunningham
Bell Labs -- Lucent Technologies
802-482-3748 (office)

Ludita H. Vallarta
Industrial Research Institute
202-776-0762 (office)


For Release: MONDAY, OCT. 26, 1998

CHARLESTON, S.C. -- James E. West, a scientist in the Acoustics Research Department of Bell Labs, the research and development arm of Lucent Technologies, received the 1998 Industrial Research Institute (IRI) Achievement Award here today at the Fall Meeting of the IRI.

The award, established in 1973, honors outstanding accomplishment in individual innovation and creativity which contributes broadly to the development of industry and to the benefit of society.

West was cited for his work on the invention and development of the foil-electret microphone, an innovation whose ruggedness, superior quality, and low cost have made it the dominant commercial microphone worldwide. The IRI award includes an original work of art, symbolizing the creative nature of scientific achievement, expressing the flight of imagination in achieving technological innovation.

West, an expert in electracoustics, physical and architectural acoustics, co-invented the foil-electret microphone with Gerhard Sessler in 1962. His pioneering research on charge storage and transport in polymers, the electrical analog of a permanent magnet, led to the development of foil-electret transducers for sound recording and voice communication.

Almost 90 percent of all microphones built today are based on the principles first published by West in the early 1960s. The simple but rugged foil-electret transducer is the heart of most new telephones manufactured by Lucent and other producers of communications equipment.

West joined Bell Labs in 1957. He holds 47 U.S. patents and more than 200 foreign patents on various microphones and techniques for making polymer foil-electrets. He is a member of the National Academy of Engineering, a Fellow and President of the Acoustical Society of America, a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), and a Bell Labs Fellow.

He has served on the board and program committee of the Conference on Electrical Insulation and Dielectric Phenomena and as a member of the Technical Council of the National Research Council.

West has received numerous awards, including the Callinan Award, sponsored by the Electrochemical Society of America; the Senior Award of the IEEE Group on Acoustics; the Lewis Howard Latimer Light Switch and Socket Award, sponsored by the National Patent Law Association; the AT&T Patent Award's George R. Stibitz Trophy; the Silver Medal in Engineering Acoustics Award of the Acoustical Society of America; and the Golden Torch Award of the National Society of Black Engineers.

He was named "Inventor of the Year" in 1995 by the State of New Jersey and received an honorary Doctor of Science degree from the New Jersey Institute of Technology in 1997.

He has authored or contributed to more than 100 technical papers and several books on acoustics, solid-state physics and materials science. One of the early publications has been chosen as a "Benchmark" publication by the Acoustical Society of America. West lives with his wife Marlene and daughter Ellington in Plainfield, N.J.

Lucent Technologies designs, builds and delivers a wide range of public and private networks, communications systems and software, consumer and business telephone systems and microelectronics components. More information about Lucent Technologies is available on the worldwide web at http://www.lucent.com.

The IRI is a non-profit association of more than 280 leading industrial companies, representing many industries such as aerospace, automotive, chemical, computer, and electronics; and which carry out some 80 percent of the industrial research effort in the U.S., employ more than 500,000 scientists and engineers, and account for at least 30 percent of its gross national product.

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