Leo Esaki


Leo Esaki

Photo from the Nobel Foundation archive.

Leo Esaki
The Nobel Prize in Physics 1973

Born: 12 March 1925, Osaka, Japan

Affiliation at the time of the award: IBM Thomas J. Watson Research Center, Yorktown Heights, NY, USA

Prize motivation: "for their experimental discoveries regarding tunneling phenomena in semiconductors and superconductors, respectively."

Prize share: 1/4


In quantum physics matter is described as both waves and particles. One result of this is the tunneling phenomenon, which means that particles can pass through barriers that they should not be able to squeeze through according to classic physics. Through a seemingly simple experiment in 1958, Leo Esaki demonstrated a previously unknown type of tunneling in semiconductor material, material that is a cross between electrical conductors and insulators. The discovery is utilized in semiconductors known as tunnel diodes. It also led to further research on semiconductors.

To cite this section
MLA style: Leo Esaki – Facts. NobelPrize.org. Nobel Media AB 2018. Sun. 18 Nov 2018. <https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/physics/1973/esaki/facts/>

Back to top Back To Top Takes users back to the top of the page

Explore prizes and laureates

Look for popular awards and laureates in different fields, and discover the history of the Nobel Prize.