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History of Semiconductor Research

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2 Author(s)
G. L. Pearson ; Bell Telephone Labs., Inc., Murray Hill, N.J. ; W. H. Brattain

This paper presents a running story of semiconductor research from its earliest beginnings up to the present day, with special emphasis on the inception of new ideas and the resolution of older discrepancies. At several points in the story; short interludes are taken to fill in the status as of that time. Semiconductor research began quite inconspicuously about 120 years ago with some observations on the electrical properties of silver suphide. Progress was very slow for the next 50 years and then, about 1885, a mild interest developed with the discovery of point contact rectifiers. These devices were used as detectors until displaced by the vacuum tube around 1915. Development of selenium and cuprous oxide rectifiers about 1930 revived interest and the publication of a good theory of semiconductors in 1931 added still more momentum. The next period of active interest came around World War II when the catwhisker diode was revived and developed into an excellent radar detector. The announcement of the transistor in 1948 gave this field of research such a boost that it has become a real giant in the last few years and semiconductor electronics now rates as a major field of endeavor.

Published in:

Proceedings of the IRE  (Volume:43 ,  Issue: 12 )