Zhores Alferov is one of the greatest physicists of the world and was awarded a Nobel Prize in physics in 2000. His parents were born and raised in Byelorussia. When Zhores was 18 they went to Saint Petersburg and later the destiny was throwing them all over the country. In post-war years they lived in Minsk where Zhores visited school. He had an excellent teacher who loved physics devotedly and his explanations greatly impressed Zhores. When finishing the school he chose Electrotechnical Institute in Leningrad (LETI). It was the laboratory research that attracted him. Being a third-year student, he began to work in a laboratory of vacuum processes. His first investigations were directly by a research associate N.N. Sozina who studied semiconductor photodetectors. Since that time, half a century ago, semiconductors have become main objects of his scientific interests. A book “The Electroconductivity of Semiconductors” by F.F. Volkenshtein was his Textbook then. His graduation thesis was devoted to the problem of obtaining the thin films and investigating the photoconductivity of bismuth telluride compounds.
In 1952 Zhores graduated from the Institute and was offered to stay in the LETI to continue his study. But he dreamed of working at the Physico-Technical Institute that had been founded by A.A. Ioffe. His book “Fundamentals of Modern Physics” was a manual for Zhores. Happily, there was a vacancy for graduates in Ioffe’s Institute and it had been given to Zhores Alferov and may be it is this lucky distribution that has determined his happy scientific career.
Most of famous physicists of the Physico-Technical Institute moved to Moscow (to I.V. Kurchatov’s, and newly-built atomic centres). Academician Ioffe was dismissed and left the Institute of which the director he had been for 30 years. Semiconductors elite followed A.F. Ioffe in order to work under his supervision in a recently organized semiconductor laboratory belonging to the Presidium of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR.
Zhores Alferov being in a group of young researchers worked under the guidance of V.M. Tuchkevich succeeded in working out principles of the technology and the metrics of transistor electrons. The parameters of transistors were at the level of the best world samples. While quickly and effectively progressing as a scientist, he began to comprehend the significance of the technology not only for electronic devices, but in basic research work too. Since then he preferred to analyze experimental result proceeding from “simple” general laws prior to putting forward sophisticated explanations.
In 1958 A.P. Alexandrov (later the President of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR) asked their team of working out a special semiconductor device for the first Soviet atomic submarine. That required a perfectly new technology and another construction of germanium rectifiers. Soon these devices were mounted on a submarine.
In 1961 Zhores Alferov read his candidate degree thesis that had been mainly devoted to working out and investigating of power germanium and partially silicon rectifiers. Occurrence of Soviet power semiconductor electronics became possible as a result of those works. As soon as the first work on semiconductor lasers had appeared, Zhores Alferov understood the significance of the concept that semiconductor physics and electronics would be developing on the basis of hetero-structures, rather than homo-structures. It turned out that his group of researchers had been only 1 month ahead in relation to American researchers from IBM.
In 1968–69 they realized all the ideas on control the electron and light fluxes in classical heterostructures based on the arsenid gallium-arsenid aluminium system. Apart from fundamental results that were quite new and important efficient one-side injection, the “superinjection” effect, diagonal tunnelling, electron and optical confinement in a double heterostructure, they succeeded in employing principle benefits of heterostructure applications in devices, i. e., lasers, LEDs, solar cells, dynistors and transistors.
In 1969 Zhores Alferov first time visited the USA. He read his paper at the International Conference on Luminescence. It produced an impression of an exploded bomb on American colleagues.
In 1970–71 he spent 6 months in the USA working in laboratory of semiconductor devices at the University of Illinois together with Prof. Nick Holonyak (one of the founders of semiconductor optoelectronics, the inventor of the first visible semiconductor laser).
In 1971 Zhores Alferov became a recipient of the USA Franklin’s Institute gold medal for DHS laser works.
In 1972 his pupils-colleagues and he were awarded the Lenin’s Prize – the highest scientific Prize in the USSR. That year he was elected a member of the Academy of Sciences.
In 1987 he was elected director of the Ioffe Institute, in 1989 – president of the Leningrad Scientific Centre of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR; and in 1990 – Vice-President of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR. In 1995 Zhores Alferov was elected a deputy of State Duma.
Text 4. Isaac Newton