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Digital pioneer wins national physics prize

October 1, 2007Anxious celebrities worried about how their skin looks on high-definition television can attribute their woes to Texas Instruments (TI) (NYSE: TXN) Larry J. Hornbeck. He invented Digital Micromirror Devices (DMD), the chip technology that constitutes the heart of the products from DLP, a division of TI.

Today these devices are used in a broad range of all-digital displays found in homes, schools, and businessesincluding in HDTVs and digital movie projectors. In recognition of Dr. Hornbecks pioneering work, the American Institute of Physics (AIP) is awarding him the 2007-2008 Prize for Industrial Applications of Physics. He previously won an Emmy from the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences for the same invention.

The Prize for Industrial Applications of Physics is given every two years by AIP and General Motors. Dr. Hornbeck will receive the prize at an awards ceremony and reception beginning at 6:15 p.m. on Wednesday, October 17, 2007 in rooms 6C and 6E of the Seattle Convention Center.

The ceremony is part of the AVS 54th International Symposium & Exhibition, which lasts from October 14-19 in Seattle ( This year, the Industrial Physics Forum ( multifaceted science meeting that presents industrial, academic, and governmental views on significant issues in physics and related fieldsis being held in conjunction with the AVS meeting.

In selecting Dr. Hornbeck, AIP recognized him For his invention and pioneering innovations in both the design and manufacturing of Digital Micromirror Devices (DMDs) integrated into metal-oxide semiconductor (MOS) technology.

DMDs manipulate light digitally. They are basically silicon chips that hold arrays of tiny mirrors on an integrated circuit. Each mirror is much smaller than a human hair and is hinge-mounted so that it can tilt independent of the other mirrors. The tilting of the mirrors allows a digital image to be processed from a digital signal because each pixel-like mirror can be switched on and off thousands of times a second to reflect light onto a screen.

When Hornbeck invented the technology at Texas Instruments in 1987, the first chips had thousands of these tiny mirrors. Now they have millions. The technology has grown widely in the last two decades and is useful for a variety of telecommunications and display, medical, printing, measurement and other applications. For early news items about this work see and

Hornbeck was born on September 17, 1943, in St. Louis, Missouri. After earning his Ph.D. in solid state physics from Case Western Reserve University in 1973, he joined the Central Research Laboratories of Texas Instruments in Dallas, Texas. Over the span of his career at Texas Instruments, he has developed CCD image sensors, uncooled infrared detectors, and reflective spatial light modulators, including various microelectromechanical systems, and Digital Micromirror Devices. As of 2007, he holds 33 U.S. patents.

He is a Fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, a Fellow of the International Society for Optical Engineering, and an elected member of the National Academy of Engineering. Hornbeck and his wife, Laura, reside on a 32-acre property in the country near Van Alstyne, Texas, north of Dallas. They have two sons, Jason and David.

Hornbeck has received numerous national and international awards and honors. These include the (2007) Progress Medal from the Royal Photographic Society; the (2005) Progress Medal from the Photographic Society of America; the (2004) Daniel E. Noble Award from the Institute of Electrical & Electronic Engineers; the (2004) Small Times Magazine Best of Small Tech Lifetime Achievement Award; the (2002) David Sarnoff Medal Award from the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers; the (2001) Electronic Imaging Honoree of the Year Award from the International Society for Optical Engineering; the (1999) Karl Ferdinand Braun Prize from the Society for Information Display; the (1998) Emmy Engineering Award from the Academy of Television Arts & Sciences; (1997) Englands Rank Prize; and (1995) Germanys Eduard Rhein Foundation Technology Award.


Contact: Jason Socrates Bardi
American Institute of Physics

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