Robert S. Roth was trained as a geologist at Coe College and the University of Illinois. After gaining professional experience as a Research Associate at the University of Illinois Engineering Experimental Station, and as a Field Assistant at the U.S. Geological Survey, he joined the National Bureau of Standards in 1951. During his career in ceramics, Bob Roth has been nationally and internationally recognized as having discovered more new ceramic materials than any other scientist. His interest in the phase equilibria relations of the oxides of titanium, niobium, and tantalum has resulted in outstanding contributions to the field of dielectrics. His work in the 1970s in the exploration of the barium titanate systems, and his phase diagram of that system, played a critical role in their subsequent commercialization in cellular base stations. He also played a large role in the development of barium neodynium titanate and zirconium tin titanate. These materials are clearly going to be even more important in the technologies of the future, such as wireless communications, than they are today.
Dr. Roth has applied his expertise in phase equilibria to elaborate the complex phase diagrams of the ceramic copper oxide superconductors. His phase diagrams of the barium-yttrium-copper oxide system, in particular, have served for many research groups as the standards upon which their processing of the important superconducting material B2YCu3O7 is based. In 1986, Bob was awarded the U.S. Department of Commerce Gold Medal for his outstanding contributions to the phase equilibria of ceramic systems. His work is internationally recognized as setting the standards in elucidation of the fundamental chemistry, crystallography, and phase equilibria pertinent to the understanding of ceramic systems.
In addition to his own scientific research, Dr. Roth has served as senior editor of the reference series of volumes “Phase Diagrams for Ceramists” (now known as “Phase Equilibria Diagrams”), since Volume 4, starting in 1981. These volumes are widely used and globally known, especially in industry, as the standards by which countless technological ceramics have been designed and processed.
The Center for Dielectric Studies presented Dr. Roth with the Wilhelm R. Buessem Award at the CDS Awards Dinner on October 16, 2001.