Sept. 20, 1925-June 30, 2012
Palo Alto, California
Submitted by Steven Redfield
David Redfield, a research physicist and long-time resident of Palo Alto, died June 30, 2012, of complications from lymphoma. Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., in 1925, he was the younger son of Herbert and Lillian Rosenfeld. The family moved to Los Angeles in the early 1930s and California became David's home.
He completed his training as a pilot in the Army Air Corps just as World War II ended and so he returned to UCLA to complete his undergraduate education. After graduating in 1948 with a degree in physics, his career and education took him east for nearly 40 years.
He moved to Washington, DC, to work first at the National Bureau of Standards. He soon decided to continue his education and received a Master's Degree in physics from the University of Maryland (1950) and a PhD in physics from the University of Pennsylvania (1956). Over the following years, he worked as a research physicist at a division of Union Carbide outside of Cleveland, Ohio, and at RCA's David Sarnoff Research Center in Princeton, N.J., with an intervening stint as a professor at Columbia University.
His work developed in the field of semiconductors, especially the role they can play in producing electricity through solar energy. David pursued his highly technical work assiduously, even turning down promotions that would have required him to engage in administration and management at the expense of his research. In 1976, he patented a solar cell with a grooved surface that continues to be referenced in new solar cell inventions.
During his first year in Washington, DC, he was introduced to Barbara Leiken. They married in 1950 and maintained an unbreakable family bond until Barbara's untimely death in 1984. During their years together they raised their two sons, Andrew and Steven, participated in local school activities in support of their children, and traveled widely in the United States and overseas, including trips to Poland, the Soviet Union, Japan and India. He was also active with the Federation of American Scientists and their work for nuclear disarmament, and chaired a local chapter during the years the family lived in Tarrytown, N.Y.
David took early retirement from RCA in 1985 and finally returned to California. He took a position of consulting professor at Stanford University in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, where he continued his research and work with graduate students. Before his full retirement in 1997, his work culminated in the publication of a book, "Photoinduced Defects in Semiconductors," with Richard Bube, then chair of the Materials Science department. Enjoying time with his Stanford colleagues, he was a regular participant at lunches at the Faculty Club with its lively political debates. Off campus, he spent many years doing weekly readings for Learning Ally of Palo Alto (formerly Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic). He was recognized in 2010 for having completed 2,000 hours of reading for them.
Through a local Palo Alto bridge club, in 1992 he met Etty Korengold and the two became close companions for the next two decades, enjoying numerous social circles in the Palo Alto region, attending theater regionally and at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival, and continuing a wide range of travel in Europe, Asia, South America and Australia. David especially enjoyed his trip to the Galapagos Islands. In 2006, he moved into the new retirement center, Vi at Palo Alto (then Classic Residence by Hyatt). He discovered a new and rewarding circle of new friends there, and was active in developing a variety of activities and services for residents.
David is survived by his two sons, Andrew and Steven, his daughter-in-law, Patricia Pippert, his two nieces, Judy Gruen and Sharon Model, and six grand-nieces and nephews.