When retired Sandia National Laboratories physicist Willis Whitfield invented the modern-day cleanroom 50 years ago, researchers and industrialists didn’t believe it at first. But within a few short years, $50 billion worth of laminar-flow cleanrooms were being built worldwide and the invention is used in hospitals, laboratories and manufacturing plants today.
Whitfield was dubbed “Mr. Clean” by TIME Magazine at the time, but the travel, scientific presentations and accolades didn’t change the unassuming scientist, who was always modest about the invention that revolutionized manufacturing in electronics and pharmaceuticals, made hospital operating rooms safer and helped further space exploration.
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About the photo:
Cleanroom inventor Willis Whitfield, who passed away this month at age 92, steps out of a transportable cleanroom at Sandia National Laboratories, which could be transported to remote sites.