Andrew J. Ouderkirk, a Corporate Scientist in 3M's Film and Light Management Technology Center, received the American Chemical Society's 2003 Industrial Innovation Award in a ceremony at the society's regional meeting in Chicago recently.
Dr. Ouderkirk was cited for his role in leading the invention team for multilayer polymer optical film, a technology platform that facilitates the manipulation of light in ways not previously achievable outside of nature. The technology has broad applications in the fields of energy management; lighting display; telecommunications; and optical filters for medical imaging, financial transaction cards, security devices and other photonics applications.
The society said Dr. Ouderkirk's achievement in using polymer chemistry to manage light represents a "major advance in optics," noting that "his research has challenged Brewster's Law, a 200-year-old scientific principle that describes restrictions on the reflection of light."
3M's multilayer optical film platform combines hundreds of layers of two alternating polymers - each layer having its own light refraction characteristics - into sheets of film no thicker than paper. Depending on how the layers are combined, the films can reflect or transmit wavelengths in the ultraviolet, visible or near-infrared portions of the spectrum.
In addition to the American Chemical Society's Regional Industrial Innovation Award, the technology has won two Circle of Excellence Awards from Photonics Spectra magazine and an award from the automotive industry for 3M solar reflective film, a product that uses the multilayer technology to keep auto interiors cooler in the summer.
Dr. Ouderkirk, who grew up in the Chicago area, holds a Ph.D. in physical chemistry from Northwestern University and earned his undergraduate degree in chemistry at Northern Illinois University in 1978. He holds more than 55 patents. In 2002, Dr. Ouderkirk was named to Fast Company magazine's "Fast 50" list of top innovators.
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