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Herb Kroemer
Born August 25, 1928 (1928-08-25) (age 81)
Weimar, Germany
Residence United States
Nationality Germany
United States
Fields Electrical Engineering, Applied Physics
Institutions Fernmeldetechnisches Zentralamt
RCA Laboratories
Varian Associates
University of Colorado
University of California, Santa Barbara
Alma mater University of Jena
University of Göttingen
Doctoral advisor Fritz Sauter
Doctoral students William Frensley
Known for Drift-field transistor
Double-heterostructure laser
Influences Friedrich Hund
Fritz Houtermans
Notable awards Nobel Prize in Physics (2000)

Herbert Kroemer (born August 25, 1928), a professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of California, Santa Barbara, received his Ph.D. in theoretical physics in 1952 from the University of Göttingen, Germany, with a dissertation on hot electron effects in the then-new transistor, setting the stage for a career in research on the physics of semiconductor devices. In 2000, Dr. Kroemer, along with Zhores I. Alferov, was awarded a Nobel Prize in Physics "for developing semiconductor heterostructures used in high-speed- and opto-electronics". The other co-recipient of the Nobel Prize was Jack Kilby for his invention and development of integrated cicuits and micro-chips.

He had an early success in a rather different subject, when together with Burgess and Houston in 1953, he detected a mathematical error in Nordheim's theory of electron tunnelling through the image-force rounded barrier used in the theory of field electron emission. Between them, they generated tables of correction-factor values that are still in use over 50 years later.

He worked in a number of research laboratories in Germany and the United States and taught electrical engineering at the University of Colorado from 1968 to 1976. He joined the UCSB faculty in 1976, focusing its semiconductor research program on the emerging compound semiconductor technology rather than on mainstream silicon technology.

Professor Kroemer was elected as a member of the National Academy of Engineering in 1997 and the National Academy of Sciences in 2003. Professor Kroemer has always preferred to work on problems that are ahead of mainstream technology. In the 1950s, he invented the drift transistor and was the first to point out that advantages could be gained in various semiconductor devices by incorporating heterojunctions into the devices. Most notably, in 1963 he proposed the concept of the double-heterostructure laser, the central concept in the field of semiconductor lasers. Kroemer became an early pioneer in molecular beam epitaxy, concentrating on applying the technology to untried new materials.

Along with Charles Kittel he co-authored the popular textbook Thermal Physics, first published in 1980, and still used today. He is also one of the celebrated authors of another textbook, Quantum Mechanics for Engineers and Materials Scientists.

External links



Up to date as of January 14, 2010

From Wikiquote

Herbert Kroemer (born August 25, 1928) is professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of California, Santa Barbara. In 2000, along with Zhores I. Alferov, he was awarded a Nobel Prize in Physics "for developing semiconductor heterostructures used in high-speed- and opto-electronics".


  • Whenever I came to him (Fritz Sauter) with a pure physics idea, he would invariably say, with slight sarcasm: "But Mr. Kroemer, you ought to be able to formulate this mathematically! " If I came to him with a math formulation, I would get, in a similar tone: "But Mr. Kroemer, that is just math, what is the physics?" After a few encounters of this kind, you got the idea: You had to be able to go back and forth with ease. Yet, in the last analysis, concepts took priority over formalism, the latter was simply an (indispensable) means to an end.
    • in his Autobiography, Herbert Kroemer, The Nobel Prize in Physics 2000
  • Ultimately, progress in applications is not deterministic, but opportunistic, exploiting for new applications whatever new science and technology happen to be coming along.
    • in his Nobel Lecture, Quasi-Electric Fields and Band Offsets: Teaching Electrons New Tricks, 8 December 2000, at Aula Magna, Stockholm University.

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