Computer, Cell Phone Tech Focus of Nobel Awards

The Royal Swedish Academy on Tuesday awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics to three scientists whose discoveries were crucial in the development of the mobile phone and the semiconductor.

The prize was half jointly awarded 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, for developing semiconductor heterostructures used in high-speed and opto-electronics. The other half of the prize went to Jack S. Kilby with Texas Instruments Inc. for his part in the invention of the integrated circuit.

Heterostuctructed semiconductors have been useful in satellite communications, mobile phones, optical data storage, such as CD players, bar codes and laser markers. Kroemer, who was born in 1928, first worked on the heterostructure transistor in 1957 while working at RCA Corp., according to the academy.

Later, Kroemer and Alferov in 1963 independently developed the principle for the heterostructure laser. That technology today is used in fiber optic communications. Alferov, 70, has been director of A.F. Ioffe Physico-Technical Institute since 1987.

Kilby and Robert Noyce are considered inventors and trail blazers of the practical uses of the integrated circuit. Kilby was the first to have a patent application of the technology, according the academy. IBM Corp. on Tuesday took a US$2.5 billion step to continue the evolution of the semiconductor, and other companies are investing heavily to push the limits of the technology.

Kilby, who was born in 1923, is a co-inventor of the pocket calculator and he has approximately 60 patents.

The Physics prize is worth SEK 9 million (US$915,937). Alferov and Kroemer will each receive a little more than $228,000, while Kilby will receive a little over $457,000.

The Nobel Prize has been awarded since 1901 and was created by the founder of dynamite and Swede, Alfred Nobel.

The Royal Swedish Academy, in Stockholm, Sweden, can be reached at +08-673-95-00 or at http://www.kva.se/.

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