Katharine Burr Blodgett
Working as a research assistant to Irving Langmuir, Katharine Blodgett experimented with monolayers, organic films only a single molecule thick, initiating a new scientific discipline and laboratory techniques still used today.
Born in Schenectady, New York, Blodgett earned her B.S. from Bryn Mawr College and her M.S. from the University of Chicago. As a research assistant to Langmuir at General Electric, Blodgett followed his discovery that a single water-surface monolayer could be transferred to a solid substrate. Years later, she found the process could be repeated to create a multi-layer stack of any thickness. The Langmuir-Blodgett technique, essentially unchanged since Blodgett's discovery in 1935, has found ever-widening uses in scientific research and practical applications ranging from solar energy conversion to integrated circuit manufacturing.
Blodgett furthered her work, creating multilayer antireflective coatings on glass, resulting in the world's first 100% transparent, or truly invisible, glass. Non-reflective glass eliminated distortion from reflected light in a wide variety of optical equipment including eyeglasses, telescopes, microscopes, and camera and projector lenses.
Blodgett was the first female scientist to be hired by GE and to earn a Ph.D. in physics from Cambridge University.