The Nobel Prize in Physics 1956
Born: 23 May 1908, Madison, WI, USA
Died: 30 January 1991, Boston, MA, USA
Affiliation at the time of the award: University of Illinois, Urbana, IL, USA
Prize motivation: “for their researches on semiconductors and their discovery of the transistor effect”
Prize share: 1/3
Also awarded: The Nobel Prize in Physics 1972
Amplifying electric signals proved decisive for telephony and radio. First, electron tubes were used for this. To develop smaller and more effective amplifiers, however, it was hoped that semiconductors could be used—materials with properties between those of electrical conductors and insulators. Quantum mechanics gave new insight into the properties of these materials. In 1947 John Bardeen and Walter Brattain produced a semiconductor amplifier, which was further developed by William Shockley. The component was named a “transistor”.