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Japanese Pioneers

Makoto Kikuchi

Makoto Kikuchi

Makoto Kikuchi was born in 1925. After graduating from the physics department within the Faculty of Science at the University of Tokyo in 1948, he entered the Ministry of International Trade and Industry’s Electrotechnical Laboratory (now the National Institute of Advanced Industrial Science and Technology). He became the director of Sony Corporation’s Central Research Laboratory in 1974. He took up a position as a professor in the Faculty of Technology at Tokai University in 1990, and went on to become an honorary visiting professor at said university in 2000.

Kikuchi played a leading and educational role in the early period of advanced semiconductor technologies such as transistors. From the same article in the magazine Time (the edition of July 12, 1948), both he and Michio Hatoyama learned of the successful invention of transistors at Bell Laboratories. At the time, Hatoyama was the manager of the physics section at Electrotechnical Laboratory while Kikuchi was a fresh graduate. “Simply placing needles on a germanium crystal will produce amplification. Sounds exciting. Why don’t you give it a try?” said Hatoyama to Kikuchi. This is how Kikuchi encountered transistors, which became his future lifework. He not only created opportunities for engineers to exchange knowledge of technologies and to deepen interrelationships through various means including domestic and international academic activities, but also enhanced the level of engineers through a number of his books. Later in his life, his deeper contact with William Shockley and John Bardeen gave him the opportunity to inquire about how they went about inventing the transistor and their feelings at the time.

He received the Kanagawa Culture Award in 1994.