Our colleague and friend Prof. Dr. Franz Seifert (IEEE SM ’86), SAW pioneer of the 1970s, 1980s and 1990s, passed away at his home in Vienna, Austria, on February 7, 2016, unexpectedly.
Franz was born in 1933 in Vienna. He graduated from the Technical University Vienna in 1961 with a Dipl.Ing. degree, and finished his studies with the PhD in 1965. At TU Vienna, he joined the Institute of High Frequency Technology as a research assistant; two years later he moved to the Institute for Physical Electronics, where he received a call as Professor for Applied Electronics in 1974.
His interest in the measurement of semiconductor properties of InSb, which he focused on in his early years as a professor, brought him into contact with acoustic charge transport and acoustic wave technology. Together with his team of scientists and students, he worked and significantly contributed to virtually all areas of the application of acoustic wave devices.
Signal processing was the key theme in all of his research and most of his inventions. During more than 30 years he was active in the development of pulse compression filters, advanced spread spectrum techniques and analogue and digital convolvers. With his team, he performed contract research for government agencies, e.g. the Austrian Armed Forces, as well as the defense and aerospace industries.
Of extremely high impact was Franz Seifert’s work on surface acoustic wave (SAW-) filter design techniques, manufacturing technology, and – last but not least – device simulation. Through his work and the contributions of his team members and PhD students, among them Alireza Baghai-Wadji, and Clemens Ruppel, the early activities of Siemens AG, Munich, later EPCOS AG, received decisive inputs and scientific guidance. Also in cooperation with Siemens, he did pioneering work in the field of wireless sensing, of course applying SAW-based sensor elements.
Another focus area of research was medical electronics, especially concerning signal processing with respect to the measurement of the blood flux in arteries during the research on arteriosclerosis.
To all areas of his research he contributed innovations. Overall, more than 35 patents carry his name as inventor or co-inventor.
Franz was also remarkable with respect to his dedication to teaching. It was his true ambition to educate students and, e.g., to explain to undergraduates the “world of electronics” in an understandable way. He had the rare gift to analyze complex systems and unveil the root cause chain.
We knew Franz as a very friendly and modest man, though willing to fight for his beliefs when necessary. It was always much more important for him to see the results of his effort being used, working well and having impact, than to stand in the spotlight himself.
As a private persons, his greatest passion was to spend time with his family and his many friends, to work in his home and garden, to which normally no craftsman had access (“An engineer can fix this on his own!”), to listen to music and study Austrian history.
He was buried in presence of numerous colleagues from academia and industry, most of them former students of Franz) in his family’s tomb on a sunny winter day.