Zhores Alferov

Banquet speech

Zhores I. Alferov’s speech at the Nobel Banquet, December 10, 2000

Your Majesties, Your Royal Highnesses, Ladies and Gentlemen,

Allow me first of all, on behalf of my colleagues Professor Herbert Kroemer and Dr. Jack Kilby and myself to express our deepest gratitude to the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences for awarding us the most prestigious Prize in history – the Nobel Prize.

The Nobel Prize in Physics 2000, at the change of centuries, has a special meaning. The twentieth century was not only the century of wars and social explosions, it was the century of Physics and first of all quantum Physics. Positive progress of human kind (unfortunately not only positive) was linked with discoveries and development in this field of sciences.

As it was pointed out by a great physicist John Bardeen, only one who had two Nobel Prizes in Physics: “That science knows no national boundaries is an old story to scientists but is perhaps not as well appreciated by the general public”.

Just after the World War II discovery of the transistor and laser-maser principles – became the roots of information technology of the XX-th century.

Invention of integrated circuits and creation of a new kind of materials – “Man-made crystals” – semiconductor heterostructures – led to the modern level of information and communication technology. The important consequences of that technological breakthrough caused an overhaul in social structure of society – that is what we call now the postindustrial or informational society.

As always, we have, of course, from scientific and technological discoveries and inventions not only positive, but also negative results. Electronic mass media – being very strong and powerful weapon, unfortunately sometimes gets into hands of dishonest and irresponsible people.

We should recall the words of a great thinker Francis Bacon – Knowledge is Power. But what is also very important:

The Power must be based on Knowledge.

At the time that we commenced our research on making the double heterostructure laser:

Our purpose was both great and bright
No more the dark! Let there be light
So, to release eternal light
We did the work all day and night
And when could neither work nor think
We had the Russian vodka drink
And we must find, as years pass
What Nature has in store for us
Young Folk have come, results are new
And to Physical Review
My students’ work is to be sent
So our life will never end.

From Les Prix Nobel. The Nobel Prizes 2000, Editor Tore Frängsmyr, [Nobel Foundation], Stockholm, 2001

Copyright © The Nobel Foundation 2000

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