Walter Spear & Peter LeComber, Celebrating Dundee's Great and Good
Published on Tue 22 Dec 2015
Walter Spear was born in Germany and came to the UK with his family just before WWII. He studied at Birbeck College, University of London before joining the academic staff at the University of Leicester. It was here he met Peter LeComber, one of his very able students and future collaborator.
Both Spear and LeComber joined the staff at the University of Dundee in 1969, Spear as Harris Professor of Physics. Their research into the transport properties of crystalline solids, liquids and amorphous silicon caught the interest of the engineering world and drew attention from various companies and groups. They made numerous innovations in this field including the creation of the amorphous film silicon transistor which led directly to the development of Liquid Crystal Display technology. This is used in flat screen televisions, solar panels and mobile devices. Their significant contribution to this field led to Spear receiving the European Physical Society Europhysics prize in 1976 and the Max Born Medal and Prize for Physics in 1977. Impressively, LeComber published over 170 papers and co-invented 10 patents.
It is fitting that Spear & LeComber will be jointly commemorated at Discovery Walk, having forged a remarkable working relationship that only came to an end following LeComber’s untimely death in 1992. The legacy of their ground breaking research is evident in the advances in technology that revolutionised the way we live today.