Herbert Kroemer: 2000 - Physics

Herbert Kroemer
Herbert Kroemer
Nobel Prize in Physics

Category: Nobel Prize in Physics (jointly with the Russian Zhores I. Alferov; they shared the divided Prize with the American Jack S. Kilby who was honoured “for his part in the invention of the integrated circuit”)

Year: 2000

Prize motivation: “For developing semiconductor heterostructures used in high-speed- and opto-electronics”

Herbert Kroemer received the Physics Nobel Prize in 2000 for the far-reaching development of semiconductor heterostructures.

Herbert Kroemer is one of the fathers of modern information technology. Like the other two Physics Nobel laureates of the year 2000, Zhores Alferov and Jack Kilby, he did groundbreaking work that paved the way for technology that seems indispensable to us today.

Barcode readers and brake lights

As early as 1957 Kroemer published the theoretical basis for a new kind of transistor based on semiconductor heterostructures (semiconductors consisting of different ultrathin layers of material). Electrons can move particularly easily at the interfaces between these semiconductor layers. Today the extremely fast transistors that Herbert Kroemer’s made possible primarily benefit telecommunication satellites and the base stations of mobile telephones. After his early breakthrough Herbert Kroemer continued working hard on semiconductor heterostructures. In 1963 he published the basic design principles for a semiconductor laser with heterostructures in an American scientific journal. At the same time, but independently of Kroemer, a scientist from Belarus, Zhores Alferov, published a comparable paper. Alferov was also the first to succeed in realising such a laser in 1970. Today the laser technology that Alferov and Kroemer initiated has countless applications – for example, in DVD players, barcode readers, brake lights and traffic lights.

Pioneering university research

Herbert Kroemer also advanced semiconductor technology significantly at the institutional level: in 1976 he persuaded the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering at the University of California in Santa Barbara (UCSB) to launch an ambitious research programme into compound semiconductors. Today, the UCSB’s research in the field of compound semiconductors enjoys an international reputation.

Biography:

  • 25 August 1928: born in Weimar
  • 1947 to 1952: studied physics in Jena and G√∂ttingen
  • 1954 to 1957: employee of the Radio Corporation of America (RCA) Laboratories in Princeton (USA)
  • 1959 to 1966: employee of Varian Associates in Palo Alto (USA)
  • 1968 to 1976: professor of physics at the University of Colorado in Boulder (USA)
  • 1976 to 2013: professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of California in Santa Barbara (USA)
  • since 2013: professor emeritus
Electrical and Computer Engineering Department

Electrical and Computer Engineering Department

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