David Morgan

David Picton Morgan, IEEE Senior Life Member, was born in Essex, England in 1941 during the throes of WW2. After graduating in physics from St Catherine’s college, Cambridge University in 1962 he conducted research on Surface Acoustic Wave (SAW) devices at University College, London, gaining his MSc in 1966 and PhD in 1969. He spent the year from 1970 to 1971 at Nippon Electric in Japan, and 1971 to 1977 at Edinburgh University, Scotland, again researching SAW devices. In 1977 he joined the Plessey company, Caswell, Northamptonshire, England. At Plessey he led the team developing SAW devices for both civilian and military applications. During this time he developed the theory of SAW transduction and was encouraged to write a text book on the theory and practice of SAW devices which has become a classic in the field. This was published in 1985 while a second edition appeared in 2008. David spent almost his entire career in SAW devices, forming the company “Impulse Consulting” after the inexplicable closure of Plessey’s SAW research activity in 1986. For the rest of his life David consulted on SAW devices for numerous companies worldwide, and was widely respected as an International expert, enthusiast, and teacher and lecturer on the subject. As well as writing his book, David developed extensive software modelling suites and continued to publish his findings regularly, with a total of 100 publications and 4 patents. He died at his home in Northampton on 10th March 2010 of lymphoma, still actively engaged on his beloved SAW devices and with plans for future international collaborations.

More details of David’s work:

The existence of Surface Acoustic Waves on solids was first proved theoretically by Lord Rayleigh (also from Essex, England) in 1885. However it was not until the 1960’s that the efficient and selective generation of SAW on piezoelectric crystals was demonstrated and analysed by workers in Berkeley and Stanford Universities in California. There followed an explosion of interest worldwide in such devices and their applications. David’s introduction to the subject came from his research on dispersive delay lines for use in radar under Dr Eric Ash at University College, London. David was the first westerner to work at Nippon Electric in Japan, where he initiated a research programme into the modelling and fabrication of interdigital SAW devices. At Edinburgh University David worked as Research Fellow with Professor Jeff Collins on various aspects of signal processing using SAW devices and developed an early SAW convolver for use as a programmable matched filter. David (like the rest of the SAW community) was always keen on publishing the virtues of analogue SAW devices in the face of growing digital competition. In 1976 he edited “Key papers on Surface Acoustic Wave Passive Interdigital Devices”, IEE REPRINT SERIES 2. (ISBN:0 901223 82 4.) which contains sections describing his own work in Edinburgh.

In 1977 David joined the Plessey research centre at Caswell, Northamptonshire, in a team that at various times included Bob Milsom, John Deacon, and other SAW notables. At Plessey David worked on the theory of SAW transduction including the detailed behaviour of the charge distribution in interdigital transducers and its effect on harmonic responses. The devices investigated included bandpass filters, especially commercial TV IF filters. We believe that Plessey was the first company in the world to manufacture such devices commercially and it later formed Signal Technology, a joint SAW company with Andersen Labs, USA. Another device that David developed was the SAW dispersive delay line for use in various Plessey radars, including the extremely-demanding nonlinear disperser required for the state-of-the-art Plessey AR3D radar. At this time Plessey was also part of the collaborative UK MOD SAW program run from RSRE, Malvern. David undertook such MOD-funded research on the SAW convolver, where he introduced a variant employing dispersive transducers, and also developed the theory of a 2-dimensional impulse response. David’s other principal achievement while at Plessey was publishing in 1985 his book which formed a succinct account of the growing breadth of interest and applications of SAW devices: “Surface-Wave Devices for Signal Processing” Elsevier, ISBN: 0-444-42511-X. This includes much of David’s own theoretical work and was translated into Russian in 1990 by Sergei Zhgoon. It remained the classic work in the field until its recent second edition: “ Surface Acoustic Wave Filters” Elsevier 2008, ISBN: 978-0-1237-2537-0.

David’s work at “Impulse Consulting” is, of course, commercially sensitive but he consulted widely and undertook lecturing tours in many countries including USA, Russia, China, Finland, Japan, Korea and Brazil, where his authority and personal qualities were always highly regarded. In 1992 David participated in the “International Symposium on SAW devices for mobile communications” a select meeting of SAW experts organised by the Japanese prior to the launch of SAW devices into the massive mobile communications market. During this time (1986-2010) he continued to publish his findings, often jointly with collaborators, and David had plans for at least two further international collaborations.

David’s private life:

In his private life David was an enthusiastic and experienced skier and, like so many physicists, David was an accomplished musician. He studied piano from the age of 7 and as a schoolboy had a scholarship to attend the Royal College of Music, where among several things he played timpani in the orchestra. He also sang tenor in a number of choirs and could sing difficult scores at sight. It was during his time at Cambridge that his interest in the organ began, each of the colleges having a fine organ in their chapels. Later he attended masterclasses with the internationally renowned organists Anton Heiller and Marie-Clare Alain, and had lessons with Flor Peeters. He obtained the Royal College of Music’s diploma in organ playing in 1964. He had played for services in several cathedrals including Ely, Peterborough and St David’s, and had given a number of solo recitals. David will be greatly missed by his sister, Helen and her family, numerous friends and colleagues in the UK and abroad, and his local church where he was organist.

Eric Ash
Douglas Corr
Meirion Lewis