J. A. Dobrowolski, known as George, obtained his BSc, MSc, and PhD degrees within a period of five years. In 1950, George went to the University of London with a three-year scholarship and graduated with a BSc in 1953. During this third year, George attended Imperial College, London, and started his MSc in Technical Optics, which he completed in 1953. However, since he wasn’t allowed to graduate with two degrees in one year, he decided to enroll in a PhD program in Applied Optics at Imperial College. He collected his MSc degree in 1954 and finished his PhD in 1955.
From there, he went to the National Research Council at first intending to stay two years. He wound up spending his whole career, amounting to over 60 years at the NRH.
His work dealt almost exclusively with thin film and optical coatings. He and his team developed the anticounterfeiting device used to prevent the copying of banknotes by 1989. He achieved this by attaching thin film patches onto paper bills. These thin films had an iridescent quality that was not able to be copied, thus preventing theft.
Dobrowolski was a Fellow of the Society, from whom he won the Joseph Fraunhofer Award/Robert M. Burley Prize and the David Richardson Medal. He also won the Moet Hennessy–Louis Vuitton “Science pour l’Art,” the CAP Medal of Achievement in Industrial and Applied Physics, the Queen’s Golden Jubilee Medal, and the Nathaniel Sugerman Memorial Award of Society of Vacuum. He was also honored by becoming a Member of the Order of Canada and being invested by the Governor-General. In May 2013, George was posthumously inducted into the International Currency Hall of Fame.