David Redfield, a research physicist and longtime resident of Palo Alto, died June 30 of complications from lymphoma. He was 86.
Born in Brooklyn, N.Y., in 1925, he was the younger son of Herbert and Lillian Rosenfeld. The family moved to Los Angeles in the early 1930s and California became his home.
He completed his training as a pilot in the Army Air Corps just as World War II ended, so he returned to UCLA to complete his undergraduate education. After graduating in 1948 with a degree in physics, he moved to Washington, D.C., and received a master's degree in physics from the University of Maryland (1950) and a doctorate in physics from the University of Pennsylvania (1956). Over the following years, he worked as a research physicist at a division of Union Carbide outside of Cleveland, Ohio, and at RCA's David Sarnoff Research Center in Princeton, N.J., with an intervening stint as a professor at Columbia University.
His work developed in the field of semiconductors, especially the role they can play in producing electricity through solar energy. In 1976, he patented a solar cell with a grooved surface that continues to be referenced in new solar cell inventions.
During his first year in Washington, D.C., he was introduced to Barbara Leiken. They married in 1950 and stayed married until her death in 1984. During their years together they raised their two sons, Andrew and Steven, participated in local school activities in support of their children, and traveled widely in the United States and overseas, including trips to Poland, the Soviet Union, Japan and India.
He took early retirement from RCA in 1985 and returned to California. He took a position of consulting professor at Stanford University in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering, where he continued his research and work with graduate students until his retirement in 1997.
Off campus, he spent many years doing weekly readings for Learning Ally of Palo Alto (formerly Recording for the Blind and Dyslexic). He was recognized in 2010 for having completed 2,000 hours of reading for them.
Through a local Palo Alto bridge club, in 1992 he met Etty Korengold and the two became close companions for the next two decades, attending theater regionally and at the Oregon Shakespeare Festival and traveling in Europe, Asia, South America and Australia.
He is survived by his sons, Andrew and Steven; his daughter-in-law, Patricia Pippert; his nieces, Judy Gruen and Sharon Model; and six grand-nieces and nephews.