George Wei lost a brief battle with cancer on May 18, 2011. Wei was a staff scientist at Osram Sylvania (1992-present). He received his PhD in ceramics from MIT (1976) and BS in physics from Taiwan University (1971). He was an E.P. Wigner post-doctoral fellow at Oak Ridge National Laboratory from 1976 to 1978. From 1978 to 1984, he was a technical staff member at ORNL, where he developed whisker-reinforced ceramic composites.
From 1984 to 1992, he was a principal member of the technical staff at GTE Labs, where he started working on optical ceramics, initially for infrared transmitting windows, but later on various vessel materials in lighting.
After the acquisition of Sylvania from GTE by Siemens/Osram in 1993, his work included sintering science and microstructural development of transparent ceramics for light sources: numerous arc tubes and substrate materials from oxide, oxy-nitride and nitride families.
Recently, the emphasis of Wei’s work was on high-quality, monolithic ceramic phosphors for light conversion in LEDs. Recent significant improvements in the brightness of green and amber LEDs have benefited from his work and talent, for which George Wei also received the Osram Orange (Innovation) Award in 2011.
He authored over 60 journal or proceeding papers, and held over 25 patents. He was a member of World Academy of Ceramics, and a Fellow of The American Ceramic Society. He won the F.H. Norton Award of the American Ceramic Society in New England (2007) and the Ceramographic Competition Award through multiple years (1977, 1981, 1983 and 2000). Wei also served the Society on numerous committees right up to the time of his untimely death.
Secretary of the Department of Energy, Steven Chu, acknowledged his work in helping to bring about a sustainable energy future, telling Wei, “your work on whisker-toughened ceramic composites astonishingly improved fracture resistance. Research of this kind is one of the national laboratory’s finest accomplishments. I am glad that our laboratories attract accomplished and dedicated individuals like you. Your work in the private sector has been celebrated in numerous published articles as well as dozens of patented works. These accomplishments have earned you recognition from your peers as a distinguished innovator. Thank you for your many contributions and tireless dedication to the advancement of materials sciences.”
Former and present colleagues in the Materials Science Group and Central Laboratories of Osram Sylvania say they will bitterly miss his daily presence and intellectual contributions.
Wei is survived by his loving wife, two children, and two grandchildren.