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Robert J. Visser, Applied Materials, Inc.

Newly Elected Member of the MRS Board of Directors

Christine LuscombeRobert J. Visser is the Vice President of Engineering Technology in the Office of the Chief Technology Officer at Applied Materials, Inc. In his role, he is responsible for creating business opportunities in new and adjacent markets related to advanced displays, optical components for augmented reality, ‘flat optics’ (metasurface based optics), co-packaged optics and advanced packaging solutions. He also advises Applied Materials' chemistry group in India at the Indian Institute of Technology Bombay and is looking at the role of new materials in quantum technology to explore new growth opportunities for Applied Materials in quantum computing, quantum communication, and quantum sensing. 

With almost four decades of experience in the display industry and materials engineering, his contributions have commercialized flat panel display manufacturing and uncovered breakthroughs in areas ranging from photolithography, plasma physics, plasma etching, spectroscopy, organic electronics (TFTs and NLO), and liquid crystal based optics. Virtually every OLED display made today uses technology elements that he helped pioneer during his career.

In 2020 he was recognized by the Society of Information Display with the prestigious Fellows Award for his distinguished and valued “contributions to the development and commercialization of OLED technology, and specifically to thin film encapsulation solutions." He holds a master’s degree in theoretical organic chemistry and physics, and a PhD degree in physical and organic chemistry, both from Leiden University, Netherlands. He has numerous patents and publications to his name.

Candidate's Statement

We are currently experiencing a golden age in materials engineering, marked by significant advancements in materials science, semiconductors, nanotechnology, and computational power. These developments have opened entirely new areas of materials science, allowing us to translate scientific knowledge into real-world applications. In this era of new technologies like AI, advanced computing, and next generation displays, the role of materials engineering and research has never been more exciting and crucial. As a candidate for the Board, I am dedicated to advancing materials research and providing an industrial perspective that connects various interdisciplinary stakeholders. I have always been a strong believer in the Science-Technology Spiral (H. Casimir) with fundamental science creating openings for new technology but then improved technology creating opportunities for new science. With my extensive network and expertise, I aim to contribute to the forefront of materials engineering, enabling new possibilities and driving innovation.

In my career, I have witnessed firsthand how great scientific research lays the foundation for transformative technology. As a Board member, I will prioritize initiatives that foster a collaborative environment, facilitate knowledge exchange, and promote impactful research. Bridging the gap between research institutions and industry is crucial for translating scientific advancements into real-world applications. By expediting the translation process, we ensure the relevance and impact of our research.

At Applied Materials, I have had the privilege of chairing the Engineering Technology conference for the past decade. This conference is one of the highest-level engineering events in the industry, bringing together interdisciplinary participants from academia, corporations, startups, and experts such as Dean Kamen, Bob Langer, Emmanuel Charpentier, Pat Gelsinger, Henry Samueli, Rafael Reif. It has been a platform to foster innovation, celebrate engineering achievements, and encourage research and innovation beyond the short-term business focuses of day-to-day operations. I am ready to bring my knowledge and experience in leading such industrial events to the MRS community.

I have been passionate about fostering industrial-academic collaboration to create new areas of technology and new business opportunities. I firmly believe that interdisciplinary cooperation is key to pushing the boundaries of materials science. Throughout my career, I have initiated the first OLED projects in Europe in the early nineties, and organized workshops on various topics, including quantum computing, silicon photonics, and metasurface-based optics. These seminars have brought together research institutes, startups, and corporations, allowing us to collectively address technological challenges and drive innovation. Through collaboration projects with esteemed institutions like Stanford and National Taiwan University, we have successfully advanced simulation and verification efforts for new concepts. I am dedicated to expanding these collaborations within the MRS community, fostering a culture of knowledge sharing and collaborative problem-solving.

Startups play a vital role in driving innovation, and I am committed to empowering them through the MRS platform. By offering necessary resources, coaching, and networking opportunities, we can provide an entrepreneurial ecosystem for startups to thrive. I believe that by facilitating collaboration and introducing meaningful connections, we can unlock new discoveries, accelerate innovation, and tackle complex challenges collectively. Supporting startups will not only fuel their growth but also contribute to the overall advancement of materials research.

I am deeply honored to be considered for a position on the Board of the MRS. I firmly believe that MRS plays a critical role in advancing materials science, and I am committed to contributing my expertise, experience, and passion to further its mission. By driving interdisciplinary collaboration, industrial-academic partnerships, and support for startups, we can shape the future of materials research, drive innovation, and make a lasting impact on society. I look forward to the opportunity to serve the MRS community and contribute to its continued success.