How long have you been active at Philips?
“I came here as a physicist about 35 years ago. Initially, I worked on magnetic materials used to store information on video tapes, among other things. In the early 90s, I had the privilege of working closely with two later Nobel Prize winners, Peter Grunberg and Albert Fert.
They invented the giant magnetoresistance (GMR), a foundational sensor technology for miniature hard drives consisting of magnetic material, which eventually enabled the creation of devices like the iPod. In 2007, they received a Nobel Prize for this invention.”
“After that, I ended up in a different division within Philips, which dealt with displays. That is where I discovered Philips is home to some top-notch inventors. You have to imagine; there are about twenty different types of screens available in the world, such as LCD and plasma screens. One single Philips researcher invented three of the twenty types of displays available. I thought that was unimaginable, and actually I still do.”
“You could say that my fascination with patents started then; that is when I really started inventing.”
Within Philips, Invention Awards are given to researchers who were granted 10, 25, 50 or 100 patents. How many were you granted so far?
“I find that difficult to determine since it is not a competition, but I can say well over five hundred. By the way, did you know that Thomas Edison, the nineteenth century inventor, is still in the all-time top ten in terms of number of patents granted? He had 1,084 of them. However, what was true for him is certainly true for me; a patent is almost always filed and granted together with a team. I have a few that have only my name on them, and they are certainly not the best.”