Not Just Blue Sky

From high-speed transistors to solid-state lasers, IEEE Medal of Honor recipient Herbert Kroemer's theories have led to a wealth of semiconductor applications

13 min read

An unusual condition was imposed on Herbert Kroemer at the start of his research career 50 years ago. He was not allowed to touch anything in his workplace, the Telecommunications Laboratory of the German Postal Service. The fear was that this recent graduate in theoretical physics would break something. Far from constraining him, the restriction expanded his horizons.

With just pencil and paper, he began sketching out theories that would resonate across the entire world of semiconductor science. And that work would culminate in a Nobel Prize in Physics in 2000 and this year's IEEE Medal of Honor, the latter for "contributions to high-frequency transistors and hot-electron devices, especially heterostructure devices from heterostructure bipolar transistors to lasers, and their molecular beam epitaxy technology."

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