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Robert J. Davidson♦, Ph.D.
P.O. Box 7215 ♦ Boise, Idaho ♦ 83707 ♦ 208.949.8512 ♦


My passion in life is to apply what I know about technology to solve real problems that are important to solve. I especially enjoy applications that involve materials, thermal, and electromagnetic problems with a mix of computation and experiment. That has been the theme of most of my career. At the same time, I enjoy sharing what I know, both formally and informally. I believe really understanding a subject means that I can provide a clear explanation to the non-specialist as well as the specialist. I also love non-technical subjects such as developing startup companies and learning what makes an organization successful, not only in a P&L sense, but also in a way that makes the lives of those involved feel rewarded and fulfilled.

Scientific Expertise

Sensors/Sensor Networks: sensor solution development for magnetic recording, agriculture (wine grapes), and football player concussion prediction/alerts.

Software: proficient in C/C# and Fortran. Have practical knowledge of IDEs including Visual Studio (currently using Visual Studio 2010), Code Red/Eclipse ARM, Segger J-link, and AVR/WinAVR for embedded work. Have working knowledge of Python, unix/linux shell scripting (mainly ksh), unix tools like make, grep, vi, Mathmatica. Have practical knowledge of Windows, Linux/HP-UX, OS-X, revision control systems like, GIT, SourceGear Vault, and related networking issues and administration.

Electromagnetic and Mechanical CAD: have written code for and successfully applied FEM and other numerical techniques (Monte Carlo, finite difference) to solve various boundary value problems that arise in electromagnetic, thermal, and mechanical problems. Extensive use of commercial codes, in particular Infolytica’s MagNet and familiarity with ANSYS, NEC, HFSS.

Magnetism and Materials: magnetic design, advanced storage materials (magnetic and non-magnetic) , advanced linear tape storage, physics of disk drive recording systems, physics of materials.

Signal Processing: DSP codes for signal conditioning (LMS adaptive filtering) and communication channel coding.

Optical Systems: heterodyne optical interferometry, laser based test system, opto-mechanical systems

Statistical Process Control: applied statistical process control and defect analysis in micro fabrication processes related to magneto-resistive head manufacturing and disk drive manufacturing.


Ph.D., Carnegie Mellon University, Department of Electrical and Computer Engineer, Pittsburgh, PA Dissertation: Vector Preisach Hysteresis Models for Simulation of Magnetic Recording Media. Research Advisor: Prof. Stanley Charap, Chair of PhD Committee: Prof. Mark Kryder, 1996

M.A., Physics, The Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD 1980

B.S., Physics, Washington State University, Pullman, WA 1977

Professional Experience

AMBIENT SENSORS, LLC Boise, ID 2/2010 - Present

Consultant in Wireless Sensor Networks providing complete solutions to industry from software to electronic, electromagnetic design and sensor selection based on customer requirements.

BOISE STATE UNIVERSITY Boise, ID 4/2008 – 1/2010
Assistant Research Professor

Charged with developing new areas of research and technology to benefit a varied scientific and business community. Lead teams of student and faculty researchers in designing and conducting research to benefit business partners. In addition to scientific responsibilities, conduct extensive outreach to government agencies, multi-national and local businesses and scientific organizations. Perform business analyses, prepare research proposals, deliver research results in papers and presentations. Maintain solid relationships with a wide variety of research clients.

Sensor Network Projects: Led student research in sensor network usage for locomotives (MotivePower), water management, traffic study (Idaho Department of Transportation), water management for viticulture (USDA) and animal tracking. Studies made specific recommendations for improving measurement methods and facilitating implementation of sensing technology to ensure maximum productivity.

NASA Micro-Gravity Project: Collaborated with Barbara Morgan on student microgravity project flown on NASA Zero-G aircraft. Also advised a student team receiving 2nd place in paper competition (tied with MIT) for a lunar analog project investigating how to manage a permanent-base agricultural repository on the moon.

Spark Plasma Sintering of MOX Nuclear Fuels: Collaborated with Dr. Darryl Butt, Department of Material Science and Engineering and the Center for Advanced Energy Studies at the Idaho National Laboratory. Study investigated ways to improve fabrication of fuels using Spark Plasma Sintering. Results are pending publication.

SAVICON, INC. Boise, ID 11/2003 – 3/2008

Founded a privately owned provider of comprehensive IP surveillance solutions that was acquired by Meridex, Inc. in November, 2007. Built and managed all aspects of a startup company, including project management, team development, strategy, business planning, sales and marketing and customer relations.

HEWLETT PACKARD COMPANY Boise, ID/Palo Alto, CA 7/1979 – 10/2003
Senior Scientist/Engineer and Physicist, R&D Lab

Designed and conducted laboratory research to better understand phase change behavior of calcogenide materials for HP’s atomic resolution storage project – a concentrated effort to identify methods for increasing storage density. Extensive research resulted in creating density increases of 10,000x previous capacities.

Technology Innovation and Leadership: Contributed to research that established HP as the standing technology leader in storage, for more than 20 years. Sponsored Clayton Christiansen at HP for studies that formed an important part of his PhD research and the basis of his seminal book, The Innovator’s Dilemma.

Multi-year research: Responsible for a four year study involving 50 scientists and business executives. Investigated thermal, carrier transport and device modeling together with experimental work using a specially- built laser system to cycle material between phases. Scientific American covered the project in a 2003 issue.

Thin Film Head Innovation: Designed heads/media for HP’s first thin film head disk drive. Research led directly to the company’s entry into the PC disk drive marketplace.

MR Head Development: Designed simulation and mask layout of dual-stripe MR Head for HP Laboratories. Research led to a storage capacity improvement still used in today’s disk drives.

Modeling Tools: Developed recording physics and disk drive channel models over span of 20 years. Introduced 3D FEM modeling to industry and developed 3D magnetic materials models used to simulate recording media in disk and tape products. Developed associated models of disk drive communication channels including optimization of ISI in non-linear channels through application of various encoding and decoding schemes as well as conventional and adaptive digital (FIR) channel equalization schemes.

Optical Measurement Tools: Created a patented heterodyne interferometer system with 0.1 nm resolution and 200 Khz frequency response capable of simultaneous roll, pitch, and flying height (disk drive). Designed and implemented optical, mechanical and electronic components. System continues to be used by recording industry and others. Developed high power diode pumped laser test system to study melting/re-crystallization dynamics of chalcogenides.

University Research Partnership: Developed models of magnetic media for NSF sponsored Engineering Research Center in Data Storage at Carnegie Mellon University, 1992 – 2000. Performed supporting experimental measurements of media (vector, VSM, recording test). Selected to participate as an industry and HP representative.

Engineering Instruction: Served as adjunct faculty member with the University of Idaho Department of Electrical Engineering, teaching Electromagnetics (EE330), Finite Element Methods for Electrical Engineers (EE443) 1991 – 1995.

Additional Research Experience

Naval Research Laboratories: 12/1977 to 6/1979. Research Assistant in the Space Sciences Division. Wrote simulation of X-ray detectors and satellite kinematics for X-ray burst detection astronomy program. Granted Secret level clearance for a portion of the work.

Los Alamos National Laboratory: June to August 1977. Graduate Assistant in Controlled Thermonuclear Reactor Group, performing measurements of high voltage power supplies for a high intensity magnetic field generation experiment.


US Patent No. 7,057,202 B2, “Ultra-High Density Storage Device Using Phase Change Diode Memory Cells and Methods of Fabrication Thereof,” June, 2006
US Patent No. 6,704,267, “Atomic Resolution Storage Systems With Enhanced Magnetic Field Protection,” May, 2006
US Patent No. 5,930,062, “Actively Stabilized Magnetoresistive Head,” July 1999
US Patent No. 5,309,304, “Magnetoresistive Transducer Conductor Configuration,” September, 1994
US Patent No. 5,142,425, “Disk Drive in Which Magnetic Head to Disk Capacitive Coupling is Eliminated,” August 1992
US Patent No. 4,881,143, “Compensated Magnetoresistive Read Head,” November, 1989
US Patent No. 4,861,447, “Interferometer Apparatus and Method for Determining the Spatial Relationship Between Two or More Objects,” July, 1987

Selected Publications

“Atomic Resolution Storage Media – Progress and Challenges,” G. Gibson, et al., HP Techcon 2003
“Combined Vector Hysteresis Models and Applications,” R.J. Davidson and S.H. Charap, Invited paper, Intermag 1996, published in the I.E.E.E. Transactions in Magnetics.
“Across the Track Performance of Dual Stripe Magnetoresistive Heads,” R.J. Davidson, R.F. Simmons, E. Champion, H.N. Bertram, S. Charap, Intermag 1996, in the I.E.E.E. Tranactions in Magnetics.
“Prediction of the Limitations Placed on MR Head Servo Systems By Track Edge Writing for Various Pole Tip Geometries,” R. Davidson, S. Charap, and R. Simmons, 1995 MRM Conference, published in the Journal of Magnetism and Magnetic Materials.
“Vector Combined Preisach Model with Biaxial Switching Operator for Simulation of Unoriented Thin Film Media,” R. Davidson, S. Charap, and R. Simmons, 1995 MRM Conference, published in the Journal of Magnetism and Magnetic Materials.
“Dual Stripe Magnetoresistive Heads,” M. Covault, T. Janstrom, R. Davidson and R. Simmons, Computer Technology Review, Fall/Winter 1994.
“A 3D Moving Vector Preisach Hysteresis Model,” F. Ossart, R. Davidson and S. Charap, I.E.E.E. Transactions on Magnetics, vol. 31, no.3, May 1995.
Moving Vector Preisach Hysteresis Model and *M Curves,” F. Ossart, R. Davidson and S. Charap, I.E.E.E. Transactions on Magnetics, vol. 30, no. 6, November 1994
“Media Design for User Density of Up to 3 Bits Per Pulse Width,” R. Simmons and R. Davidson. Invited paper at TMRC, 1992, I.E.E.E. Transactions on Magnetics, vol. 29, no. 1, pp 169 – 176, Sept. 1992
“Roadmap for 10Gbit/in2 Media: Challenges,” E. Murdock, R. Simmons and R. Davidson. Invited paper at Intermag 1992. I.E.E.E.Transactions on Magnetics, Vol. 28, No.5, Sept. 1992
“Multi-channel Interferometric Measurements of Slider Flying Height and Pitch”, D. Henze, P. Mui, G. Clifford, and R.J. Davidson, I.E.E.E. Transactions on Magnetics, vol. 25, no. 5, Sept. 1989.
“Anisotropy Changes in Magnetoresistive Heads due to Lapping and Annealing”, R. Simmons, R. Davidson and H.S. Gill, I.E.E.E. Transactions on Magnetics,vol. 25, no. 5, Sept. 1989.
“Bias Scheme Analysis of Shielded MR Heads for Rigid Disc Recording”, M.K. Bhattacharyya, R.J. Davidson, and H.S. Gill, Journal of Applied Physics, vol. 61, no. 8, April 1987
“Applications of Heterodyne Interferometry to Disc Drive Technology”. Invited paper at the Society of Photo-Optical Instrumentation Engineers, Laser Applications in Science and Engineering, January 1986
“The Effect of Stripe Domains on the Displacement Curve of a MR Head”, B. Davidson, R. Simmons, and M. Covault, I.E.E.E. Transactions on Magnetics, vol. 20, no. 5, Sept. 1984.

Honors, Awards, Memberships

Gillman Fellow in the Department of Physics at the Johns Hopkins University
HP Fellowship at Carnegie Mellon University Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering
Memberships: American Society of Industrial Security International, Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, American Physical Society