Elsa Reichmanis

Born: December 9, 1953 | Melbourne, AU

Elsa Reichmanis discusses her family's immigration to the United States and her childhood in Syracuse, New York, where she also earned her BS and PhD in chemistry from Syracuse University. Later, Reichmanis took a technical staff position at AT&T Bell Laboratories (currently known as Bell Labs, Lucent Technologies), and eventually she was promoted to director. Reichmanis describes her work, which involves photonic research and deep-UV lithography, while also offering her views on Valerie J. Kuck's research on women in chemistry, the definition of innovation, and the future of chemistry. 

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Interview Details

Interview no.: Oral History 0222
No. of pages: 55
Minutes: 206

Interview Sessions

David C. Brock
1 August 2001
Murray Hill, New Jersey

Abstract of Interview

Elsa Reichmanis begins the interview with a description of her family's immigration to the United States and her childhood years in Syracuse, New York. Reichmanis developed an interest in chemistry after taking a high school chemistry course. After graduating a year early from high school, she enrolled at Syracuse University. While obtaining her B.S. in chemistry, Reichmanis performed heteroaromatic chemistry research in Apostolos G. Anastassiou's laboratory. Completing her degree in three years, she decided to remain at Syracuse University for her PhD Upon matriculation, Reichmanis took a technical staff position at AT&T Bell Laboratories, which is currently known as Bell Labs, Lucent Technologies, where she still remains. Reichmanis' work has focused on deep-UV lithography, such as the creation of 248 nm and 193 nm resist technologies. Currently, she is performing photonic research. While at Bell Labs, Reichmanis has held numerous positions ranging from technical staff to supervisor to director. Elsa Reichmanis concludes the interview with a discussion of Valerie J. Kuck's research on women in chemistry, the definition of innovation, and the future of chemistry. 


Year Institution Degree Discipline
1972 Syracuse University BS Chemistry
1975 Syracuse University PhD Organic Chemistry

Professional Experience

Syracuse University

Organic Chemistry Teaching Assistant
1973 to 1975
Research Fellow
1975 to 1976
Postdoctoral Intern
1976 to 1978
Dr. Chaim Weizmann Fellow

Bell Laboratories

1978 to 1984
Technical Staff, Organic Chemistry Research and Development Department
1984 to 1994
Supervisor, Radiation Sensitive and Applications Group
1994 to 1995
Head, Polymer and Organic Materials Research Department
1996 to 2002
Director, Polymer and Organic Materials Research Department


Year(s) Award

Phi Beta Kappa


R&D 100 Award, Research and Development Magazine


Society of Women Engineers Achievement Award


Elected to the National Academy of Engineering


AT&T Bell Laboratories Fellow


ASM International Engineering Materials Achievement Award


Elected Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science


Photopolymer Science and Technology Award


Award in Applied Polymer Science, American Chemical Society


Perkin Medal, Society of Chemical Industry


George Arents Pioneer Medal, Syracuse University

Table of Contents

Childhood and Early Education

Parents. Family. Emigration from Australia to the United States. Growing up in Syracuse, New York. Importance of education. Beulah P. Durr. Budding interest in chemistry. Assessment of current science and mathematics education in public schools. Hobbies.

College Education

Graduating early from high school. Applying to Syracuse University. Undergraduate research. Apostolos G. Anastassiou. Heteroaromatic chemistry. Finishing college in three years. Decision to stay at Syracuse University for graduate school. Ph.D. dissertation. Weizmann Fellowship.

Career at Bell Laboratories

The Bell Labs reputation. Reflections on meeting and marrying Francis J. Purcell. Interest in deep-UV lithography. Larry F. Thompson and Murrae J. Bowden. The importance of knowing one's limitations. Laboratory budgets. Technology-licensing program. Research into deep-UV resists. Edwin A. Chandross and Cletus W. Wilkins, Jr. 248 nm resists. Francis M. Houlihan and Thomas X. Neenan. SEMATECH and Olin Ciba-Geigy Microelectronic Materials, Inc. (now Arch Chemicals, Inc. ) contract for the commercialization of 248 nm technologies. Promotion to supervisor, radiation sensitive materials and applications group. Birth of children. 193 nm technology. Promotion to director of polymer and organic chemistry research. Agree Systems, Inc. Photonics.


Thoughts on mentoring young scientists. Valerie J. Kuck's research. Women in chemistry. Definition of innovation. Serendipity and research. The future of chemistry.


About the Interviewer

David C. Brock

David C. Brock is a senior research fellow with the Center for Contemporary History and Policy at the Chemical Heritage Foundation. As a historian of science and technology, he specializes in the history of semiconductor science, technology, and industry; the history of instrumentation; and oral history. Brock has studied the philosophy, sociology, and history of science at Brown University, the University of Edinburgh, and Princeton University.

In the policy arena Brock recently published Patterning the World: The Rise of Chemically Amplified Photoresists, a white-paper case study for the Center’s Studies in Materials Innovation. With Hyungsub Choi he is preparing an analysis of semiconductor technology roadmapping, having presented preliminary results at the 2009 meeting of the Industry Studies Association.