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Optoelectronics researchers win Nobel Prize for Physics

17 Jun 2002

The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences has decided to award this year's Nobel Prize for Physics to scientists and inventors whose work has laid the foundation of modern information technology, particularly through their invention of rapid transistors, laser diodes and integrated circuits.

One half of this year's prize was awarded jointly to Zhores I Alferov of the A F Ioffe Physico-Technical Institute, St Petersburg, Russia, and Herbert Kroemer of the University of California at Santa Barbara, California, in the US, for developing the semiconductor heterostructures that are used in high-speed optoelectronics.

The second half of the prize was awarded to Jack S Kilby of Texas Instruments, Dallas, Texas, in the US, for his part in the invention of the integrated circuit.

Alferov and Kroemer have invented and developed fast opto- and microelectronic components based on semiconductor heterostructures. Fast transistors built using heterostructure technology are used in radio-link satellites and the base stations of mobile telephones. Laser diodes, which are built with the same technology, drive the flow of information through the Internet's fiber-optic cables. They are also found in CD players, bar-code readers and laser pointers. With heterostructure technology, powerful light-emitting diodes are being made for use in car brake-lights, traffic lights and other warning devices. Electric bulbs may, in the future, be replaced by light-emitting diodes.

Alferov was born in 1930 in Vitebsk, White Russia - then the Soviet Union. He has been the director of the A F Ioffe Physico-Technical Institute since 1987. For more information see

Kroemer was born in 1928 in Germany. He currently works at the University of California at Santa Barbara, in the US. For more information see http://www.ece.ucsb.edu/Faculty/Kroemer/default.html

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