10 October 2000
The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has decided to award the Nobel Prize in Physics for 2000 to scientists and inventors whose work has laid the foundation of modern information technology, IT, particularly through their invention of rapid transistors, laser diodes, and integrated circuits (chips).
The prize is being awarded with one half jointly to
Zhores I. Alferov
A.F. Ioffe Physico-Technical Institute, St. Petersburg, Russia, and
University of California at Santa Barbara, California, USA,
“for developing semiconductor heterostructures used in high-speed- and opto-electronics”
and one half to
Jack S. Kilby
Texas Instruments, Dallas, Texas, USA
“for his part in the invention of the integrated circuit”
Modern information technology
In today’s society increasing amounts of information flow from our computers out through the optical fibres of the Internet and through our mobile telephones to satellite radio links all over the world. Two simple but fundamental requirements are put on a modern information system for it to be practically useful. It must be fast, so that large volumes of information can be transferred in a short time. The user’s apparatus must be small so that there is room for it in offices, homes, briefcases or pockets.
Through their inventions this year’s Nobel Laureates in physics have laid a stable foundation for modern information technology. Zhores I. Alferov and Herbert Kroemer have invented and developed fast opto- and microelectronic components based on layered semiconductor structures, termed semiconductor heterostructures. Fast transistors built using heterostructure technology are used in e.g. radio link satellites and the base stations of mobile telephones. Laser diodes built with the same technology drive the flow of information in the Internet’s fibre-optical cables. They are also found in CD players, bar-code readers and laser pointers. With heterostructure technology powerful light-emitting diodes are being built for use in car brake-lights, traffic lights and other warning lights. Electric bulbs may in the future be replaced by light-emitting diodes.
Jack S. Kilby is being rewarded for his part in the invention and development of the integrated circuit, the chip. Through this invention microelectronics has grown to become the basis of all modern technology. Examples are powerful computers and processors which collect and process data and control everything from washing machines and cars to space probes and medical diagnostic equipment such as computer tomographs and magnetic resonance cameras. The microchip has also led to our environment being flooded with small electronic apparatuses, anything from electronic watches and TV games to mini-calculators and personal computers.
Zhores I. Alferov born 1930 in Vitebsk, White Russia, then the Soviet Union. Doctor’s degree in physics and mathematics 1970 at A.F. Ioffe Physico-Technical Institute in St. Petersburg (then Leningrad), Russia. Director of this Institute since 1987.
Herbert Kroemer born 1928 in Germany. Doctor’s degree in physics 1952 at University of Göttingen. Employed among other places at RCA Laboratories, Princeton, NJ, USA 1954-57 and at Varian Associates, Palo Alto, CA, USA, 1959-66. Professor of Physics, University of Colorado, Boulder, 1968-76 and subsequently University of California at Santa Barbara, USA.
Jack S. Kilby born 1923 at Jefferson City, Missouri, USA. American citizen. Employed at Texas Instruments since 1958. Professor at Texas A&M University 1978-85.
The Prize amount is SEK 9 million. Zh.I. Alferov and H. Kroemer are to share one half and J.S. Kilby is awarded the other half.
|Information for the Public|
|Scientific Background (pdf)|