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Gerhard M. Sessler

Electret Microphone

U.S. Patent No. 3,118,022
Inducted in 1999
Born Feb. 15, 1931

Gerhard M. Sessler and James West invented the foil electret microphone while working at Bell Laboratories. This device, which was finalized in 1962, combines high performance features, such as broad frequency range, low noise, and high sensitivity with low cost. Its commercial production began in 1968. Today, almost two billion electret microphones are manufactured annually.

In the 1980s at the University of Darmstadt, Sessler developed the first condenser microphones based on silicon micromachining. This innovative technology allows for the fabrication of thousands of tiny microphones on a single silicon wafer. These can be used for hearing aids, hearing implants, and other applications.

Sessler was born in Rosenfeld, Germany and studied physics at the Universities of Freiburg, Munich, and Goettingen. After receiving his Ph.D. from Goettingen in 1959, Sessler moved to the United States to work at Bell Labs. He stayed at Bell Labs until 1975, when he returned to Germany to become professor of electroacoustics at the University of Darmstadt.

Sessler, who holds over 100 U.S. and foreign patents and is an IEEE Fellow, is the recipient of many awards, including the George R. Stibitz Trophy and the Helmholtz Medal, the highest award of the German Acoustical Society.

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