shmj English top ||Shimura's Essays top||Part-1||Part-2

1)Receiving the Nobel Prize – The First Report
Lady luck always seems to come at the most unexpected of times.
That was the case when the Nobel Prize for Physics was received by Leo Esaki, who at the time was a research fellow at the IBM Watson Research Center in the United States.

2)A Nobel Prize Born from a Failure Analysis
Leo Esaki won the Nobel Prize in Physics for the tunnel diode (Esaki diode), which was actually born from the failure analysis of a transistor for radio application.
In the mid 1950's, Sony developed a transistor with an increased concentration of impurities (phosphorus) in germanium crystals, but faced the problem of large quantities of defective products.

3) The Awards Ceremony in Stockholm
The biggest highlight for the Nobel laureate is the awards ceremony held at the concert hall of the Nobel Prize headquarters in Stockholm, Sweden.
It must be sure that both the award recipients and person presenting the award are filled with energy and excitement.

4) Special Edition: “Congratulations, Esaki-san!”
After it was decided that Esaki would win the Nobel Prize, the December 1973 issue of Electronic Materials immediately printed a special edition titled, “Congratulations, Esaki-san!” with congratulatory words from 17 people from the Japanese semiconductor industry.

5) Creating a Superlattice the Night Before the Big News
The picture above is Esaki's thank-you note for the special edition of "Electronic Materials" to congratulate him on winning the Nobel Prize.
Written at the top, "I will be in Stockholm for the awards ceremony tomorrow, December 8th", was done in the middle of his now extremely busy schedule. Even so, reading the packed 5-page letter, it is possible to feel the depth of Esaki's thoughtfulness and sincerity.

6) The Birth Place of "Super Lattice"
Esaki, when moved to IBM T. J. Watson Research Center in 1960, felt that he wanted, by being away from Esaki diode research work, to do a large scale research work only possible in USA. This thought led him to his proposal of a unique concept of “Super Lattice” in 1970.

7) Esaki's Outstanding Analogy
Whenever I hear Esaki’s speech, I always think he is outstanding in his analogy.
In some round-table discussion meeting, he talked, “Japanese people often compare with US only by the finished products, but this is not real competition. In case of Olympic Game’s race, runners run in the same racing track, and the time difference between first and second runners are very small by only a few seconds.

8) Esaki Diode is not in the mainstream (?)
My association with Esaki has already been more than forty years. The first contact with him was when I organized the round-table talk for newly founded "Denshi Zairyo" magazine, between Esaki and Noboru Takagi, Director, Institute of Space and Aeronautical Science (ISAS), the University of Tokyo in the summer of 1968. At that time, Esaki returns to Japan from US once in every 2 years.

9) Ingenious Idea of HEMT
The world first device to make Esaki proposed Super Lattice for practical application is high electron mobility transistor (HEMT). Takashi Mimura, Fujitsu Laboratory's Senior Researcher (currently Fellow) developed it in 1979.

10) The Pioneer of Quantum Devices
Hiroyuki Sakaki, also known as "Sakaki of Quantum Devices" drew attention from all over the world. It is an interesting story in how he got involved in this research. Sasaki graduated from the Faculty of Engineering at the University of Tokyo in 1968, but the department he learned was Electrical Engineering Department, which was only slightly related to "electronics", and he thought that he would like to do jobs related to power generation in the future.

11) Betting on the Room Temperature Continuous Oscillation Laser
One of the 2000 Nobel Prize winners in physics was Zhores I. Alferov of Russia, for developing a semiconductor laser in 1970 that continuously oscillated at room temperature using gallium arsenide and aluminum gallium arsenide heterostructures. However, there was a Japanese researcher who had the same achievement at the same timing. He was Izuo Hayashi of Bell Telephone Laboratories in the United States.

12) "Chance" and "Luck" in Research
Izuo Hayashi, who was successful in developing room-temperature continuous oscillation semiconductor lasers, returned to Japan on this occasion and became the NEC Central Research Institute Fellow and then the head of Tsukuba Research Center of Optical Technology Research and Development.

13) Junichi Nishizawa and his "Semiconductor Maser" Patent
In early July, 1970 I heard for the first time of Bell Laboratory group's achievement regarding room temperature continuous oscillation semiconductor lasers.
I suddenly heard the telephone ring, so when I picked it up, Professor Junichi Nishizawa of the Tohoku University Electrical Communication Institute told me of Hayashi's success.

14) “Mister Semiconductor” becomes a Medal
In early July, 1970 I heard for the first time of Bell Laboratory group's achievement regarding room temperature continuous oscillation semiconductor lasers.
I suddenly heard the telephone ring, so when I picked it up, Professor Junichi Nishizawa of the Tohoku University Electrical Communication Institute told me of Hayashi's success.

15) A Research Life Fascinated by Blue Light Patent
In light of the "blue era" in which Picasso expressed human suffering in blue, light emitting diodes (LEDs) are also in the middle of it.
It was Isamu Akasaki who is a professor at Meijo University and also a special professor at Nagoya University who first opened the door leading the way to blue LED era.

16) Pioneering the Industrialization of Blue LED becomes a Medal
Akasaki being the pioneer of blue LED "research", then it is Nichia Corporation that put a leading pillar in its "industrialization". The company is a major domestic company of phosphor materials with the headquarter in Anan City, Tokushima Prefecture, and because it was involved in the purification of metallic gallium, it was suitable for tackling on research on gallium nitride semiconductors.

17) Announcement of CCD without Pre-notice
Charge-coupled devices (CCD), which are widely used today as image sensors of digital cameras, appeared suddenly. Willard Boyle of US Bell Telephone Laboratories announced his research result without pre-notice in the panel discussion of “Which way ICs will move in 1970s” hosted by IEEE in March 1970.

18) Character “S” imaged by 64-pixel CCD
Kazuo Iwama, President of Sony America at that time, promptly obtained the information of “CCD”, a new semiconductor device developed by Bell Telephone Laboratories. He visited Bell Telephone Laboratories at the end of 1969, and talked with Willard Boyle, one of the inventors of CCD.

19) 250K-pixel CCD attached to the Gravestone
In 1973, Sony selected CCD as one of the five big R&D projects, and started the development, targeting at a small CCD camera. Iwama commanded, “Develop a small CCD camera at the cost of under 50,000 yen within five years”. He also inspired the development team by saying, “The competitor is not an electronics manufacture, but Eastman Kodak”.

20) Initiator of the boom of amorphous semiconductors
In early spring 1969, I received phone call from the person called Stanford Ovshinsky. I intuitively realized that he is Ovshinsky who is well known in the research work of amorphous materials. He presented the paper titled “The reversible switching phenomenon in disordered structure” in the Journal of American Physical Society published in November 1968. It caused several arguments how to evaluate this paper.

21) Use of amorphous semiconductors to the solar cell
With regards to the domestic technologies of amorphous semiconductors, Sanyo Electric’s amorphous silicon solar cell attracted the interest. The central person of the solar cell development was Yukinori Kuwano, actively worked in the research department and finally became the President of Sanyo Electric.

 Part-3 END

| To page top |

“Mr. Shimura’s Essays with Historic Photos”    Semiconductor History Museum of Japan
Society of Semiconductor Industry Specialists (SSIS), General Incorporated Association
Shiota Bldg 202, 6-27-10 Shinjuku, Shinjuku-ku, Tokyo Japan, 160-0022, Tel:81-3-6457-3245 Fax:81-3-6457-3246 Url:
All the contents including the texts and the photos herein published are neither allowed to be reproduced, nor copied without permission of SSIS.
Copyright (C) 2016, SSIS All Rights Reserved