emeritus

Dick Pantell

Richard H. Pantell, known widely as Dick, was born in New York City on Christmas Day, 1927. He passed away peacefully in San Mateo, CA on March 26, 2019 at age 91. He is survived by two daughters, Laurie Pantell and Sue Pantell, and his partner Carol Bergman. He was married to Leona Siff Pantell ( BA, 53, LLB 56, Stanford) until her passing in 1996.

Dick got his secondary education at the highly regarded Bronx High School of Science in New York City, graduating in 1944. After a year's study at CCNY, he enrolled at MIT as an Electrical Engineering major. He received both the BSEE and MSEE degrees from MIT in 1950, and his PhD at Stanford in 1954. His PhD supervisor was Professor David Tuttle, a very popular teacher of Network Theory to both graduate and undergraduate students. Professor Tuttle had received his PhD at MIT, studying under the direction of Prof. Ernst Guillemin, himself a network theorist of international reputation.

image of Professor Dick Pantell, Ginzton Lab
Dick Pantell's thesis was entitled " New Methods of Driving Point and Transfer Function Synthesis". It proved to be a classic in the field. The earliest work in the general field of passive network synthesis had been done at MIT by Dr. Otto Brune in 1931, who established the necessary and sufficient conditions for a network to be realizable using only resistors, capacitors and inductors. However his realizations sometimes required the use of ideal transformers. The need for ideal transformers was first removed by Dr. S. Darlington at Bell Labs in 1944, but with the constraint that the networks needed to be lossless: composed of only capacitors and inductors.

Dick Pantell's PhD thesis, written in 1954, presented the first general solution to the problem of synthesizing RLC networks with prescribed driving point and transfer characteristics without the limitations required in the Brune and Darlington solutions. It was truly a major contribution to the field. Other work had been done to remove the constraints of Brune and Darlington, but there was no general solution to the problem until Pantell produced one.

Dick was appointed as an Assistant Professor in EE at Stanford in 1956. He proved to be an excellent teacher and supervisor for PhD candidates. He was appointed a Full Professor in 1964.

The breadth of Dick's interests led him to change fields several times, always without fanfare. Following his pathbreaking work in network synthesis, Dick joined the Microwave Laboratory at Stanford to begin working on the design of Megawatt Space-Harmonic Travelling-Wave tubes and related devices. From there, over the next 25 years, he turned sequentially to the study of millimeter wave generation, ferroelectrics, lasers, non-linear optics and photon-electron effects. At the time of his passing, he was working on neutron physics and its application in several areas including materials analysis and medical treatment. His efforts to assist in the commercialization of a small neutron generator for radiology could have important applications in the targeted treatment of specific cancers for decades.

In addition to his scientific interests, he also read widely, bringing a characteristic depth to everything he did, including studying subjects at a sufficient level of detail to write papers and deliver lectures on them. Though he would have bristled at the description, he was what is often called a Renaissance Man.

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