Dr. James Hillier

BIOGRAPHY

 

James Hillier, research physicist, was born in Brantford, Ontario, Canada, Aug. 22, 1915, son of James and Ethel (Cooke) Hillier. His father was a mechanical engineer. After receiving his preliminary education at public schools in his native city and the Brantford Collegiate Institute, James Hillier was graduated B.A. in 1937, M.A. in 1938, and Ph.D. in 1941 at the University of Toronto.

While graduate students, he and Albert Prebus designed and built in 1938 the first successful high-resolution electron microscope in the western hemisphere. In 1939 he was made a Research Assistant at the Banting Institute of the university's medical school to continue the development of the electron microscope. He went to the United States in 1940 and began a continuing association with the Radio Corporation of America (RCA), when he joined the staff of its electronics research laboratory in Camden, N. J. He was transferred in 1942 to the then newly-formed RCA Laboratories at what is now known as the David Sarnoff Research Center, Princeton, N. J., where he has continued to the present time, except for two intervals, one in 1953-54 when he was employed by another firm, and a second in 1955-56 when he was chief engineer of RCA Industrial Electronics Products, Camden, N. J.

Among his laboratory posts, he was research physicist in charge of fundamental electron microscope research until 1953 and in 1954-55 was administrative engineer for research and engineering. He became General Manager, RCA Laboratories in 1957 and in 1958 became Vice President, RCA Laboratories, responsible for directing the research programs and the administration of RCA's central research facility. In 1968 he became Vice President, Research and Engineering and in early 1969, Executive Vice President, Research and Engineering. In these last positions he has corporate responsibility for all of RCA's research, development and engineering programs.

From the time of its founding until the early 1950's, RCA Laboratories concentrated its research and development activities on television, tubes, radar, antennas, communications, and acoustics, with an emphasis on the construction and testing of complete electronic systems. Since then, greater emphasis has been placed on the solving of fundamental problems, with much of its research devoted to basic electronic materials and devices which permit the invention of new and improved electronic apparatus. In 1968 RCA Laboratories employed over 1200 people, approximately 400 of whom were scientists and engineers. Included are two small branch laboratories working in Zurich, Switzerland and Tokyo, Japan. Research activities have encompassed essentially all the major projects of the electronics industry and the broad range of relevant scientific disciplines.

In 1940 Dr. Hillier designed the first commercial electron microscope to be made available in this country, and he worked within the areas of various scientific disciplines, including medical and biological sciences, to develop useful applications of the electron microscope in those fields. He holds over forty patents for devices and processes for improvements in the fields of electron microscopy, electron diffraction, electron microanalysis, ultra-thin sectioning, and viral and bacteriological techniques. Among his most important patents are those for the electron microscope (U.S. Patent No. 2,354,263; 1944); electron microanalyzer (No. 2,372,422; 1945), electron probe analysis employing x-ray spectography (No. 2, 418, 029; '1947), method of and means for correcting for distortion in electron lens systems (with R. F. Baker; No. 2,418,349; 1947), method of operating electron guns (No. 2,444,700; 1948), correction device for electron lenses (No. 2, 469,165; 1949), and the method and apparatus for electronically determining particle size distribution (No. 2, 494. 441; 1950).

During his period of employment outside RCA in 1953-54, Dr. Hillier was director of the central research department of Melpar, Inc., Alexandria, Va., a subsidiary of the Westinghouse Air Brake Co. Later, while with RCA, he became a member of the board of directors and was president in 1964-65 of Industrial Reactor Laboratories, Inc., Plainsboro, N. J., which was formed jointly by ten companies, including RCA, to build a 5-megawatt atomic reactor for research purposes. The reactor has since been presented to Rutgers University, in which connection Dr. Hillier served as chairman of the gift committee, and the whole project has been made accessible to all industrial companies in the state of New Jersey.

In addition to his research and administrative work with RCA Laboratories, Dr. Hillier has served on the faculty of Princeton University as a visiting lecturer in the department of biology during 1950-53 and was a member in 1961-64 and chairman from 1964 of the advisory committee in the Department of Electrical Engineering. He has served also as a consultant to Princeton University, the University of Pennsylvania, and the Sloan-Kettering Institute for Cancer Research, New York City. Named in 1957 as RCA's representative in the Industrial Research Institute, New York City, Dr. Hillier became successively vice-president and in 1963-64 president of the organization; in these capacities he has concerned himself in recent years with developing the techniques of research management.

Dr. Hillier is coauthor of "Electron Optics and the Electron Microscope" (with others, 1945) and has contributed a number of chapters or articles to other books, including the Encyclopedia Brittanica. Among some 150 technical articles which he has published in various professional journals are "The Construction of a Magnetic Electron Microscope of High Resolving Power" (with A. Prebus, Canadian Jour. Res., 1939), "Fresnel Diffraction of Electrons as a Contour Phenomenon in Electron Supermicroscopic Images" (Physical Revj, Nov. 1940), "On Micro-analysis by Electrons" (ibid., Nov. 1943), "Electron Microscopy of Colloidal Systems" (with J. Turkerich, Jour. Anal. Chem., Apr. 1949), "Improved Ultra-Thin Sectioning of Tissue for Electron Microscopy" (with M. E. Gettner, Jour. Appl. Physics, Sept. 1950), and "A Theory of Communications in a Research Laboratory" (Research Management, winter 1960).

In the civic area, Dr. Hillier served in 1963-64 as a member of the five-man "Newsom" Committee, a group appointed by the Governor of New Jersey to investigate the condition, and make recommendations for the improvement of higher education in the state. Dr. Hillier has served on a number of Federal Government Committees, in particular on the Commerce Technical Advisory Board of the Department of Commerce where in 1965-66 he was chairman of the Telecommunications Science Panel and prepared a report entitled, "Electromagnetic Spectrum Utilization -- The Silent Crises."

In 1960 Dr. Hillier was corecipient, with Ernst Ruska of the Berlin (Germany) Institute of Technology, of a Lasker Award, conferred jointly by the American Public Health Association for their separate work on the design, construction, and perfection of the electron microscope as an essential tool of modern medical research.

Dr. Hillier is a fellow of the American Physical Society, American Association for the Advancement of Science, and Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, and a member of the Electron Microscope Society of America (President, 1945), National Academy of Engineering, American Management Association, Sigma Xi, and an Emminent Member of Eta Kappa Nu.

Dr. Hillier became a citizen of the United States in 1945. He was interested in art early in his career and is fond of music. His recreations include swimming, boating, and photography. Dr. Hillier was married in Erindale, Ontario, Canada, October 24, 1936 to Florence Marjory, daughter of William Wynship Bell of Brantford Ontario, and has two sons: James Robert and William Wynship.

 

Return to main page