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In memoriam: Andrei Brunfeld, optical inspection scientist

14 May 2012

SPIE Senior Member Andrei Brunfeld, 62, Andrei Brunfeld JPEGsenior scientist and manager of the optical division of Xyratex, Ltd., died 9 May following an illness. A scientist, engineer, and entrepreneur, he was known by friends and colleagues as an extraodinarily creative and active person, and a very warm, outgoing human being.

Brunfeld began his career as a scientist at the Central Institute of Physics in Romania, working in metrology, optics, and fine mechanics. He was said to be the first in Eastern Europe to integrate a laser interferometer into a machine tool.

He immigrated to Israel, where he was a staff member of the Technion, the Israel Institute of Technology, and worked simultaneously in the industry, at ELOP (Electroooptics Industries) and later at Robomatix, specializing in optical metrology and inspection.

After the founding of Display Inspection Systems, Brunfeld became its president and moved to the United States. He helped found the optical division of Xyratex and build the company into a leader in the field of optical surface inspection for flat-panel and storage-media industries.

Brunfeld pioneered several major optical surface inspection methods, including super-resolution (diffraction analysis), Black Beam interferometry®, and scanning Fabry-Perot interferometry, that areimplemented in inspection machines installed worldwide.

Well-known in the industry, he was active in the U.S. Display Consortium, chair of the IDEMA committee for optical inspection of computer discs, and actively involved with ASC OP Committee on Optics and Optical Instruments, helping to define and publish the first version of the current ANSI standard for optics surface quality. He held 28 patents and authored numerous scientific publications.

A versatile engineer, Brunfeld possessed a deep and seemingly intuitive understanding of many disciplines, including optics, mechanics, hydraulics and electronics. He was superb at a system level, able to design and build fully automatic inspection machines, from the intricate design of miniature optical inspection heads down to the last bolt of automatic handling.

"Above all, Andrei was known as a team player and a leader, always in front of his troops, igniting everyone with his enthusiasm and wit and supporting others by his knowledge and experience," said Gregory Toker, a longtime colleague and friend. "Such was his professionalism and personality that everyone dealing with him became his personal friend."

In addition to being a Senior Member of SPIE, Brunfeld was a senior member OSA, and a member of ISO, DIS, SEMI, IDEMA, AAS, and OEOSC.

He is survived by his wife, Angela, son, David, and mourned by many friends and colleguages.