Pittcon Heritage Award

Lynwood Swanson

Lynwood Swanson.

2014 Winner: Lynwood Swanson

Lynwood Swanson was selected by the Pittsburgh Conference on Analytical Chemistry and Applied Spectroscopy (Pittcon) and the Chemical Heritage Foundation (CHF) to receive the 2014 Pittcon Heritage Award. The award will be presented in Chicago on March 2 during Pittcon 2014.

About the Awardee

Lynwood W. Swanson founded FEI Company in 1973 and led this producer of electron- and ion-beam instruments for three decades. In 2012 FEI ranked among the top 15 instrumentation companies in the world.

Swanson, born in 1934 in Turlock, California, spent his early years on his family’s farm in California’s Central Valley. He attended the nearby College of the Pacific, where he became fascinated with chemistry, an interest that led him to graduate studies at the University of California, Davis, and on to a Ph.D. in physical chemistry. A postdoctoral appointment from 1959 to 1961 at the University of Chicago brought him face to face with field-emission research, which stood at the intersection of physical chemistry, surface science, and applied physics. Swanson joined the Linfield Research Institute in Oregon, a leading center of field-emission work that had been founded by renowned physicist Walter Dyke. Swanson soon became the director of basic research at a start-up company that Dyke also founded: the Field Emission Corporation (FEC), where Swanson conducted sponsored research into field-emission phenomena.

In the early 1970s Swanson became a professor of applied physics at Linfield College. In 1973 he created his own start-up, Field Electron and Ion (FEI), to commercialize field emission−based beam sources for electron microscopes and other devices. He then moved to a professorship at the Oregon Graduate Institute of Science and Technology near Hillsboro and relocated his company nearby. By the early 1980s Swanson had a substantial field-emission academic research group, and FEI had grown to become a major supplier of electron and ion sources. In these years FEI created a focused ion beam for microelectronics work for Intel Corporation, which eventually led to FEI becoming the major producer of these instruments for the semiconductor industry. In 1987 Swanson left his academic post to run FEI full time as its CEO.

Swanson personally pioneered the commercialization of advanced electron- and ion-beam sources for electron microscopy and focused ion-beam instruments. In the mid-1990s, after taking FEI public, Swanson merged FEI with Philips’s long-standing electron microscope division and with a rival ion-beam instrument producer. In the early 21st century FEI became a leading producer of scanning and transmission electron microscopes, as well as dual-beam instruments that combine focused ion beams with electron microscopy and other analytical detectors.

Swanson stepped down as CEO of FEI in 1998 and in 2002 relinquished the position of chairman. He continued to conduct research and create patents with the firm.

About the Pittcon Heritage Award

The Pittcon Heritage Award is jointly sponsored by the Pittsburgh Conference on Analytical Chemistry and Applied Spectroscopy (Pittcon) and the Chemical Heritage Foundation (CHF). This award recognizes outstanding individuals whose entrepreneurial careers shaped the instrumentation and laboratory supplies community, inspired achievement, promoted public understanding of the modern instrumentation sciences, and highlighted the role of analytical chemistry in world economies.

The award is presented annually at a special ceremony during Pittcon. The recipient’s name and achievements are added to a roster of Pittcon Hall of Fame members that includes such industry pioneers as Arnold Beckman, Robert Finnigan, Chester Fisher, Aaron Martin, James Waters, and others.

About the Sponsors

Pittcon is the largest and most inclusive conference and exposition on laboratory science and instrumentation in the world. The annual event brings together more than 30,000 conferees and exhibitors from more than 70 countries.

The Chemical Heritage Foundation is a collections-based nonprofit organization that preserves the history and heritage of chemistry, chemical engineering, and related sciences and technologies. The collections are used to create a body of original scholarship that illuminates chemistry’s role in shaping society. In bridging science with the humanities, arts, and social sciences, CHF is committed to building a vibrant, international community of scholars; creating a rich source of traditional and emerging media; expanding the reach of our museum; and engaging the broader society through inventive public events.

Pittcon Hall of Fame

Click here to learn more about the pioneers of chemical instrumentation.

Past Winners

Click here to see the past recipients of the Pittcon Heritage Award.

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