Dr. Arnost Reiser, chemist, photoresist researcher, professor, and Holocaust survivor, died on August 4, 2015 at the age of 95. Since 1982 a professor at the NYU Polytechnic School of Engineering, Reiser died at the school’s Rogers Hall where he continued to visit regularly even after he stopped teaching.
In the lithography community, Reiser is best known for his development of KTFR (Kodak Thin Film Resist), the first commercially successful photoresist for semiconductor manufacturing. He is also well known for his studies of Novolak-diazonaphthoquinone resist mechanisms. Reiser worked at Kodak from 1960 – 1982, then left to start the Institute of Imaging Sciences at Polytechnic University.
I remember devouring his 1989 book Photoreactive Polymers: The Science and Technology of Resists, published at a time when there were far too few serious books on photoresists. But what really intrigued me about his work was the topic of percolation and how it might be related to photoresist development. Reiser pioneered this topic, and I have to admit that I am still trying to understand it.
But as remarkable as his professional career was, his personal life was even more inspiring. A Jew born and raised in Prague, Reiser was sent to a Nazi concentration camp in Czechoslovakia before being sent to Auschwitz. After the war he earned his degree in chemistry and went on to teach and write a popular Czech textbook, Physical Chemistry. With his family, he escaped communism in 1960 by jumping from an East German boat off the coast of Denmark and swimming to shore. He was arrested by the Danes, but released after Niels Bohr interceded on his behalf.
He lived a remarkable life, and I am glad I was able to know him.
Here are a few links with more details of his life story:
Reiser’s testimony about being sent to a Nazi concentration camp in 1942:
A short book on his life published in 2010: