“I’m an esoteric spectroscopist by training, but I’d like to do something practical,” declared Kevin Lehmann, a professor at Princeton University when I first contacted him regarding the possibility of licensing his powerful new technology called Continuous Wave Cavity Ring-Down Spectroscopy (CW CRDS). At the time, I had no idea what an “esoteric spectroscopist” was, but I thought we could help him out on the practical side.
MEECO Inc., the company my father founded in 1948, was an early pioneer of instruments to measure trace moisture in solids, natural gas, and industrial specialty gases. After I took over in 1983, MEECO developed new products and became a leading supplier of moisture analyzers to the burgeoning semiconductor market worldwide. In the mid-1990s, I bet the company’s future on Dr. Lehmann’s revolutionary work in spectroscopy.
Using lasers to measure the light absorption of a given molecule, CW CRDS promised to complete, within seconds, measurements that normally took many hours. The technology was said to be highly stable and selective, with no tendency to drift or to confuse one molecule for another. In addition, it could detect in the parts-per-trillions, unlike the technology of most conventional analyzers.
In light of that potential, MEECO became the exclusive worldwide licensee for Dr. Lehmann’s first patent. We moved one of our lab technicians to Princeton to work shoulder-to-shoulder with the scientists there. The early word back was discouraging, however. The same qualities that drew us to CW CRDS—its great sensitivity, speed of response, and accuracy—also made it quite delicate, with results that were difficult to reproduce consistently.
Lisa Bergson, Chief Executive Officer