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Wolfgang Helfrich, while at RCA, set up a theory of conduction-induced alignment of nematic liquid crystals as a first step towards a theory of dynamic scattering. In 1970 he joined Hoffmann-LaRoche where he and Martin Schadt began their cooperation.
Afterwards he accepted a professorship at the Free University of Berlin. Since then his theoretical and experimental research centered on fluid bilayer membranes and their vesicles.