Tuesday, July 21, 2020

CMOS Sensor Pioneer Gene Weckler Passed Away

Gene Peter Weckler died of complications from Alzheimer’s on December 3, 2019. He was 87 years old.

Among his significant contributions to image sensor technology, in 1967 Gene published a seminal paper entitled: “Operation of pn junction photodetectors in a photon flux integrating mode,” which was published in the IEEE J. Solid-State Circuits. Nearly every image sensor built since then has operated in this mode. Gene also published several early papers on what we now call passive pixel image sensors during his time at Fairchild.

In 1971 he co-founded RETICON to further commercialize the technology. RETICON was acquired by EG&G in 1977. Gene stayed with EG&G for twenty years serving in many management roles including Director of Technology for the Opto Divisions. In 1997 Gene co-founded Rad-icon to commercialize the use of CMOS-based solid-state image sensors for use in x-ray imaging. Rad-icon was acquired by DALSA in 2008. Gene retired from full time work in 2009 but continued as a member of the Advisory Board for the College of Engineering at Utah State University.

In 2013, Gene Weckler received International Image Sensor Society (IISS) Exceptional Lifetime Achievement Award.

An oral history recording can be found here: http://www.semiconductormuseum.com/Transistors/ShockleyTransistor/OralHistories/Weckler/Weckler_Index.htm


  1. Gene was a personal hero of mine, as well as a professional friend. His paper about integrating photoelectrons on the intrinsic capacitance of a PN junction surely is one of the most fundamental and enduring concepts in solid-state image sensors, even if the PN junction later became a BCCD device or a PPD device. Rest in peace Gene.

  2. Albert Theuwissen - President IISSJuly 21, 2020 at 7:41 PM

    In the past I met Gene several times, but I visited his lab for the first time end of 2002. At that time I told him that the upcoming IISW2003 was going to be held in Schloss Elmau he was so happy that he immediately wanted to register. Purely by coincidence Gene had the picture of Schloss Elmau at the background of his PC display. I will never forget how such an intelligent, innovative, creative person could be so happy with the location of a workshop.
    Gene will be remembered by the imaging community for his pioneering work in the field of the integrating photodiode (as Eric already mentioned). A piece of work that has survived the test of time, already for over 50 years. Hopefully everyone can agree that, if I speak in the name of the imaging community, we lost a great a great personality. Thank you very much Gene for your ideas, your thoughts, your everything. It was a great honour to have you with us.

  3. Great tributes by Eric and Albert. RIP Gene and thank you for the important contributions.

  4. I worked At Judson Infrared when it was acquired by EG&G in 1987. I was 23 years old when I met Gene Weckler (and Ed Snow).I was working in Development of IR detectors in multiple material technologies.I thought I knew a lot but realized very quickly that these were the brilliant men. EG&G bought RCA in Vaudreuil,Canada.I took a trip there to present on Judson capabilities and on Ge APD's I had been developing a process for. I then met two more brilliant gentlemen - Paul Webb and Robert McIntyre. I will never forget flying there with these men.Luckily I was clueless as to understanding what "giants" I was with and about to meet.
    Me a kid - going to talk APD technology with Robert McIntyre. Good thing I was ignorant...otherwise I don't think I would have been able to speak at all.
    All of them were humble,gracious, and helpful.I remember later at Judson Gene taking time to talk with and explain things to me. RIP
    - Anthony Gallagher

  5. Albert and I received the following comments.

    From Peter Noble (first active pixel image sensor in the late 1960's):
    Hi all, Of all the people I recall in detail from that period when a few of us were working on image sensors it was Gene whose papers and work I followed most closely. We almost worked in parallel without knowing it and it is a great pity that we never met. Some of you may know I was offered the chance of moving to California in around 1969/70 to an undefined position with Fairchild and/or HP, so we might even have worked together.

    It is always sad when people pass on, and sad for their families (and I know nothing of his family), but he has a legacy to be proud of. It is to my regret that we never met.

    From Michael Tompsett (inventor of the first practical CCD image sensor):
    I met Gene at most of the Device Research Conferences, IEDMs and Solid State Circuits Conferences that we attended from 1970 and onwards. Gene was a very engaging clever person, not an academic, and we always had lively discussions. I had a long coherent discussion with him at Snowbird and he clearly recounted a lot of the early history [...]. He actually had moved to Utah, and more recently I located him living with a relative there.
    "A few of us working on image sensors", mentioned by Peter Noble and presumably in the sixties, were in fact just Peter and Gene. I have continued to work hard to get them the International recognition that they deserve, but it has proven to be very elusive, although Peter did finally receive national recognition in the form of an MBE. If photolithography had been 20 years more advanced, the story would have been very different.
    Gene made his mark, started Reticon and significantly contributed to technology, which we ultimately all use.
    He has a place in history and we will remember him.


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