Dr. Kazuaki Tarumi
Physicist, winner of the German Future Prize
DAAD Scholarship 1978–1979
Deutscher Zukunftspreis / Ansgar Pudenz
He wanted to modernise television – and for achieving that the Japanese physicist Kazuaki Tarumi received the German Future Prize, or the "research Oscar" as it is also known, in November 2003. The award is worth 250,000 euros, which makes it one of the most highly endowed German research prizes. It is awarded annually by Germany’s Federal President for outstanding innovation in the field of technology, science and business.
Good fortune and staying power are what a researcher needs.
Kazuaki Tarumi and his team developed a liquid crystal compound at the Darmstadt-based pharmaceuticals company Merck that significantly improved TV flat screens. To do this, the researchers first had to overcome the inertia of the crystals used in liquid crystal displays (LCDs). These substances have to be able to switch as quickly as possible to ensure that rapid movements on the screen appear natural. The Merck researchers managed to do this and were able to raise picture quality even further with new liquid crystal compounds, which are required for modern large flat screens. From the very start, team leader Tarumi believed a great future lay ahead for the new technology.
The Japanese researcher studied at Bremen in 1978/79 as a DAAD Scholarship holder and also gained his doctorate there. He then worked as a university physicist in Japan before receiving an offer from Merck to take up a position with the company in the field of product development. Since 1990 he has worked in leading positions in liquid crystal research at Merck KGaA. In 2010, he received the Merck Innovation Award. The holder of some 200 patents is also a sought-after university speaker on the subject of innovation management. Tarumi is fascinated by the direct path from idea to technological development. He considers staying power and good fortune to have been the decisive factors in his success.