Katherine Derbyshire, Pira International
Executive Summary or Order
Ever since 1990, when researchers at Cambridge University demonstrated electroluminescence in poly(para-phenylene vinylene) (PPV), organic semiconductors have attracted research dollars, venture investments, and even Nobel prizes. They have not, however, achieved significant product sales until very recently. In the last year or two, organic semiconductors have begun to appear in commercial products. The technology appears poised for rapid growth.
This report seeks to separate real growth opportunities from hyperbole, analyzing the technical and market challenges facing organic semiconductor devices. It combines existing market data with a new survey of industry leaders to produce the first comprehensive study of the emerging organic semiconductor market.
by Eliyahu M. Goldratt and Jeff Cox
This classic introduced the Theory of Constraints to manufacturing management. The idea that a manufacturing plant is only as productive as its bottlenecks may seem obvious now, but was revolutionary at the time. Even more important, this second edition extends the theory to the management of business processes. What if the constraint is lack of orders or lack of vision at the corporate level? Only a handful of business books are truly essential, but this is one of them.
by John D. Joannopoulous, Robert D. Meade, and Joshua N. Winn
Photonic crystals have gotten a lot of attention at recent materials science meetings. A photonic crystal is a material in which the dielectric properties vary periodically, leading to all sorts of interesting behavior. For instance, it's possible to design a perfect reflector at a given wavelength, or to trap an arbitrary wavelength within a resonant cavity. I didn't know that until I read this book, which starts from the basics of electromagnetism in dielectric media and constructs a good overview of how photonic crystals work and what they're good for. The book assumes familiarity with Maxwell's Equations. Knowledge of basic solid state physics concepts like crystallography and quantum mechanics would be helpful, but isn't essential.
Edited by G. Hadziioannou and P. F. van Hutten
Interest in plastic electronics has exploded in recent years, thanks to materials that combine the electronic and optical properties of semiconductors with the mechanical properties of polymers. The field can be intimidating to newcomers, however, as it draws on organic chemistry, condensed matter physics, and materials science. This book offers an anchor, in the form of a comprehensive review of conjugated polymer physics, chemistry, and devices. It's the place to start for technologists needing either a quick survey or a thorough overview, but is probably too dense for non-technical readers.
by Edward R. Tufte
For many people, Edward R. Tufte needs no introduction. He's a well-known writer and lecturer on design and the effective presentation of information. I thought I didn't need to read his books because I'm not a graphic artist. I was wrong. When experts in a particular subject throw a spreadsheet to the designer and walk away, the result is quite often a decorative but useless creation that completely misses the point. When subject matter experts with no understanding of design create their own graphics, important data can be obscured by cluttered, noisy charts.
All three books are beautifully produced and filled with examples of good and bad design. All three are on my shelf. Visual Display emphasizes statistical graphics, including scatterplots, bar charts, maps, and so forth. Envisioning Information considers numbers as nouns, as representations of objects in the real world, and discusses the problems of representing three-dimensional objects on the flat page. Visual Explanations goes one step further to consider numbers as verbs, as descriptions of processes evolving over time. Examples range from the poignant, such as the failure of Morton Thiokol's engineers to prevent the disastrous Challenger launch, to Babar the Elephant's whimsical dream of the triumph of good over evil.
by Douglas R. Hofstadter
Now reissued in a 20th anniversary edition, this classic rewards multiple readings. It's superficially about visual, musical, and mathematical paradoxes like those found in M. C. Escher's drawings, J.S. Bach's fugues, and Godel's Incompleteness Theorem. As it turns out, though, such paradoxes wind through many of the important ideas of the 20th century, from computing to molecular biology. Enough detail and technical rigor to satisfy experts, but accessible to intelligent laypeople.
by Jan Mazurek
I didn't want to like this book. The cover copy led me to expect a one-sided attack on the semiconductor industry's claims of clean manufacturing. Instead, I found a clear discussion of the difficult balance between the public interest and the needs of a constantly evolving industry. Semiconductor manufacturers regularly change manufacturing processes, shift production between countries, and even (through foundries) transfer production to entirely different companies. All of these characteristics complicate traditional environmental regulation based on clearly defined lists of pollutants from clearly defined sources. Meanwhile, the industry's sometimes obsessive secrecy, though justified by competitive pressures, complicates community relations and can hamper more flexible regulatory approaches.
In some cases, Mazurek's lack of semiconductor manufacturing expertise shows. For example, she repeats without comment the contention of environmental groups that water too dirty for wafer manufacturing is, of necessity, unfit for human consumption. In other instances, the existing regulatory structure itself leads to potentially misleading analysis. For example, Department of Commerce statistics on semiconductor shipments do not clearly distinguish between US-manufactured chips and US-designed chips manufactured outside the US, making it difficult to tell whether declines in toxic releases are due to cleaner manufacturing or simply to production transfers.
These complaints are merely quibbles, though. Taken as a whole, Mazurek has composed an impressive and thought-provoking analysis. Environmental policy makers, manufacturing executives, and the citizens affected by their decisions could all learn something from this book.
Paperback or Hardcover
by Clayton M. Christensen
Why do great companies fail? They listen to their customers. They invest in promising products for growing markets. And yet, time after time, they fail to respond when disruptive technologies transform their markets. IBM dominated the mainframe computer market, but missed the emergence of minicomputers. Digital Equipment created the minicomputer market, but failed to adapt to personal computers. Christensen argues that these companies were "as well-run as one could expect a firm managed by mortals to be," and that their very success sowed the seeds of failure. He examines why some technological advances enhance the position of existing suppliers, while others create new markets and destroy companies. Finally, he shows managers how to harness and exploit potentially disruptive forces. The Financial Times declared this the best business book of 1997. It should be on every manager's shelf.
by Jakob Nielsen
Anyone who designs web pages should have a copy of this book. So should anyone who creates content for the web or anyone struggling with Internet strategies and business models. Nielsen's web design recommendations challenge conventional wisdom, favoring minimalist layouts over splash and glitter. His advice seems radical to the point of insanity, until he supports it with reams of statistics and pages of examples from his years of usability research. The examples of good and bad web design alone are worth the cover price.
This site was designed and implemented in Dreamweaver 4. We only scratched the surface of its capabilities. Combining true What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWYG) layout with a powerful HTML editor, the program allows you to draw complex pages with click-and-drag ease, then hand-tweak to your heart's content. Imported files and scripts emerge unscathed. Site management features make synchronizing a live site with the test environment as easy as synchronizing a PDA.
The package includes no templates and no page creation wizards. Thanks to excellent tutorials and documentation, you don't really need them. A library of buttons and other common graphic elements would have been nice, though.
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