Professor S. D. Smith OBE FRS, FRSE, FInstP
Founder and Honourary Chairman
Professor Smith established Edinburgh Instruments as the first spin-out company on Britain’s earliest “Research Park”.
He began his career as a Scientific Officer in the Royal Aircraft Establishment at Farnborough researching infrared properties of semiconductors. This was followed by a year at Imperial College Department of Meteorology before returning to the University of Reading where he progressed to Reader until 1970. Whilst working at Reading University Professor Smith collaborated with John Houghton at Oxford on a very successful project building a novel instrument the Selective Chopper Radiometer for NASA’s Nimbus 4 satellite launched in 1970 so achieving the first observations on a global scale of the vertical temperature structure of the atmosphere.
His other early researches between 1956 and 1968 included the earliest published design method for optical multilayer interference filters. Through his establishment of Coating & Filter Design Ltd he influenced in a seminal manner the optical coating industry in both the UK and the US notably through Grubb Parsons Ltd in Newcastle.
In 1970 Professor Smith moved to Edinburgh to take up his appointment of the Chair of Physics at Heriot-Watt University. He was the first academic on the Heriot-Watt’s Riccarton Campus – planning and building (from a green field), the Physics Department which reached a 5 * research rating in the 1980’s. The Department led the optoelectronics growth in Scotland, to which his some 230 publications contributed.
Professor Smith was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society of Edinburgh in 1973, and of the Royal Society of London in 1976. He was also awarded an OBE in 1998. Professor Smith holds a BSc and DSc in Physics from Bristol University and PhD in Physics from the University of Reading.