OSA Mourns the Loss of Donald R. Herriott

Donald R. Herriott, a pioneer in the field of laser technology and a past president of OSA, died November 8, 2007 after a long illness.  He was 79.

Herriott attended Duke University, the Institute of Optics of the University of Rochester and the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn.  From 1949 to 1956, while attending the University of Rochester, he worked for Bausch & Lomb, where he focused on thin films and interferometry.  In 1956 he joined Bell Telephone Laboratories to work on lens measurements, optical storage of information and to consult on a wide variety of optical programs.  Six years later, in 1961, Herriott was one of a small group that invented the first continuously operating laser using Helium-Neon technology. 

Herriott remained at Bell Labs until 1981, ultimately serving as the head of the Lithographic Systems group, developing optical, electron beam and x-ray techniques for patterning integrated circuits.  During this period he also worked on the development of phase measuring interferometry and new methods of assembling lenses.  While at Bell Labs he generated 35 patents, including the Helium-Neon laser, the optics of integrated circuit mask making techniques, the EBES electron lithographic system, and wavefront measuring techniques.  In 1981 Herriott began consulting at Perkin Elmer as Senior Science Advisor.

Herriott served on the OSA Board of Directors from 1968-1970 and as OSA president in 1984.  He was a Fellow of the Society and also served as a member of the Executive Committee, chair of the Laser Technical Group, associate editor of JOSA, and chair of the Editorial Board and Publications Committee.

Herriott was the recipient of numerous awards and honors.  OSA presented him with the Joseph Fraunhofer Award in 1984 “for persistent and continued efforts toward perfecting the techniques of high resolution lithography.”  He received the Industrial Research 100 Best Products Award in 1976 and the Outstanding Patent of the Year Award in 1977 from the Research and Development Council of New Jersey.  He was also the recipient of the IEEE Cledo Brunetti Award “for key contributions to the development of a practical electron beam system for fabrication of integrated circuit masks and to other aspects of microlithography,” [1981] and the Thomas Alva Edison Patent Award [1986].  In 1982 he was elected to the National Academy of Engineering “for invention of the helium-neon laser, and inventions and the development of lithographic systems for integrated circuit fabrication.”

In addition to his professional accomplishments, Herriott had an avid interest in sailplane gliding, skiing, building houses, painting, camping, orchid growing and espalier culture, remote controlled aircraft and boats, farming and birding.  He is survived by his wife, Karis Smith Herriott, four children and six grandchildren. 

Contributions may be made to the Alvin Dubin Alzheimer Disease Resource Center, 10051 McGregor Blvd., Suite 101, Fort Myers, FL 33919, or the J.N. “Ding” Darling Wildlife Society, One Wildlife Drive, Sanibel Island, FL 33957.  For additional information and a guest book, see www.roberts-mitchell.com.