Innovator: ROGER APPLEDRORN
Discovery: Optical innovations and microreplication technology
Ever wonder how traffic signs on the road stay so bright and visible? Each inch of sign material contains thousands of microreplicated prisms that reflect light back to drivers. This is made possible by 3M microreplication technology, the creation of tiny, precisely shaped structures arrayed to dramatically alter the physical, chemical and optical properties of a surface. Back in the 1950s, Roger Appledorn, a young physicist at 3M, was asked to work on overhead projectors when he became curious about the fine patterns on transparent surfaces he was examining. The rest is history.