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Henry I. Smith

  • Born: May 26, 1937, Jersey City, New Jersey

  Interview Details

Interview no.: 0321
Interview Date: October 25, 2005
Location: Cambridge, Massachusetts
Interviewer: Cyrus Mody
No. of pages: 49
Minutes: 211
Sponsor: Nanotechnology

  Abstract of Interview

Henry I. Smith begins the interview with a description of his childhood in New Jersey, his early aptitude in science, and his decision to pursue the sciences. After obtaining an undergraduate degree at Holy Cross College, Smith enrolled in Boston College Graduate School to pursue his interest in physics. Upon receiving his master's degree, Smith took a research position at the Air Force Cambridge Research Laboratory (AFCRL) in order to fulfill his ROTC requirement. At AFCRL he worked with top scientists and proved himself an able researcher. Smith returned to Boston College following his stint at the Air Force to pursue his Ph.D. His research in x-ray diffraction formed the basis for his pioneering work on x-ray lithography later in his career. While working at the MIT Lincoln Laboratory, Smith realized the importance of fabrication technology and submitted a grant proposal to the National Science Foundation for building a national research and fabrication center. Despite his unsuccessful proposal, Smith established a Submicron Structures Laboratory with MIT funding. Migrating to MIT's campus, Smith investigated a variety of lithography methods such as x-ray, conformable photomask, interferiometric immersion-projection, and zone plate array lithography. He concludes the interview by offering some insights on the semiconductor industry, and how to best develop a research culture that stimulates innovation.


1958 B.S., Physics, College of the Holy Cross
1960 M.S., Physics, Boston College
1966 Ph.D., Physics, Boston College

  Professional Experience

United States Air Force Cambridge Research Laboratory

1960 - 1963 First Lieutenant

Boston College

1966 - 1968 Assistant Professor of Physics

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

1968 - 1977 Staff Member, Lincoln Laboratory

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

1977 - 1980 Group Leader, Lincoln Laboratory

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

1977 - 1980 Adjunct Professor of Electrical Engineering

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

1977 Director, Nanostructures Laboratory

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

1980 Professor of Electrical Engineering

Massachusetts Institute of Technology

1990 - 2005 Keithley Professor of Electrical Engineering


1960 Member of American Physical Society
1966 Member of Sigma Xi
1978 Member of Materials Research Society (MRS)
1980 Member of American Vacuum Society (AVS)
1987 Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) Fellow
1989 Member of National Academy of Engineering
1990 Member of Optical Society of America (OSA)
1995 IEEE Cledo Brunetti Award
2003 The International Society for Optical Engineering (SPIE) Bacus Award

  Table of Contents

Title and Description Page

Family History and Early Life Experiences 1

Interest in science. Developing hobbies. Understanding chemistry.

Education 2

Undergraduate degree at College of the Holy Cross. Master's and Ph.D. in physics at Boston College. Research at the Air Force Cambridge Research Laboratory. High pressure physics at Boston College.

Career at Lincoln Laboratory at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology 5

Interest in fabrication technology. Origins of nanofabrication. National Science Foundation funding. Influence of Jay Harris leading to proposal for National Research and Resources Facility for Submicron Structures (NRRFSS). Building the Submicron Structure Laboratory with MIT funding.

Career at MIT Campus 10

Working at Lincoln Laboratory and MIT campus simultaneously. Finding funding.

Professional Development 19

Organizational cultures conducive to research. Attending Gordon Research Conferences. Feelings toward semiconductor industry.

Concluding thoughts 33

Thoughts on different lithography techniques. Cultural obstacles to entrepreneurship in Japan.

Notes 43

Index 44

  About the Interviewer

Cyrus Mody

Cyrus Mody is an assistant professor of history at Rice University. Prior to that position he was the manager of the Nanotechnology and Innovation Studies programs in the Center for Contemporary History and Policy at the Chemical Heritage Foundation. He has a bachelor’s degree in mechanical and materials engineering from Harvard University and a Ph.D. in science and technology studies from Cornell. He was the 2004–2005 Gordon Cain Fellow at CHF before becoming a program manager. Mody has published widely on the history and sociology of materials science, instrumentation, and nanotechnology.

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