Obituary: Professor E. G. S. Paige ; Pioneer in Surface Acoustic Wave Research

Article excerpt

E. G. S. PAIGE learnt his skills as a physicist at the Radar Research Establishment, Malvern. He worked in a world-class group inventing semiconductor devices to improve radar. After a mid- career change to Professor of Electrical Engineering at Oxford University, he enjoyed developing the talents of electrical engineers in their formative years.

Ted Paige was born and brought up in the East Sussex village of Northiam. As an only child he spent a lot of time roaming the Romney Marshes, investigating the wildlife, and taking items home to view through a microscope. He liked to make things from bits of wood that came to hand, and he tinkered with the gears on his prized bicycle to improve performance. These skills were to prove valuable.

Paige went to Rye Grammar School and was evacuated to Bedford during the Second World War. In 1949 he won a County Major Scholarship and obtained a place at Reading University, where he gained a first class honours degree in Physics. This being the best result in the Science Faculty he won the right to attend the Association for the Advancement in Science exhibition in Belfast. With the stimulating encouragement of his supervisor, William Mitchell (later Professor Sir William Mitchell FRS), he obtained a PhD in 1955 with a thesis on the effects of irradiation damage in quartz.

During the next 22 years at the Radar Research Establishment (RRE) in Malvern, Paige progressed from Junior Research Fellow to Deputy Chief Scientific Officer. He joined the Transistor Physics Division under the leadership of Alan Gibson.

Paige studied the behaviour of free carriers in semiconductors. To interpret his data he had to improve his theoretical skills. Subsequently he set up informal colloquia in which colleagues took turns to review theoretically oriented articles from the literature. By this time his self-confidence was high and his quiet manner made him easy to approach for help, advice and the discussion of ideas.

In 1968 Ted Paige and Dennis Maines perceived that a renewed interest in Rayleigh waves on semiconductor surfaces in the literature might have considerable potential. A joint proposal to the Ministry of Defence resulted in a gear change for Paige when he was appointed leader of a 15-strong team, which he built into a coherent group. It was charged with research and development of surface acoustic wave (Saw) devices. Many patents, publications and applications followed, and the team's reputation spread internationally. In 1973 the MoD presented their Wolfe Award to the Saw team for their pioneering work.

Saw devices greatly boosted the performance of radar signal- processing systems. Paige supervised their design and development to specification for industrial manufacture. Saw devices came to be used in radar equipment fitted to the RAF's Nimrod reconnaissance aircraft.

Paige had many contacts in universities through his monitoring role for MoD extramural contracts. …