Childhood & Early Life
Zhores Ivanovich Alferov was born on March 15, 1930, Vitebsk in Byelorussia, which was at that time a part of the U.S.S.R, but now a part of Republic of Belarus. Both his parents, Ivan Karpovich Alferov and Anna Vladimirovna, were of Byelorussian ancestry.
His father, Ivan Karpovich Alferov, was a member of the Bolshevik party. He retained his adherence to the communist principles all his life and imbibed them into his children. For his living, he worked as a factory manager and was posted in various cities. Later he became a director in the same farm.
Zhores’ mother Anna was a librarian and also headed a public organization for housewives. He also had an elder brother named Marx, who died in 1944, fighting in the Second World War. Young Zhores adored him very much and was much affected by his death.
After the war, Zhores entered the only boy's school in the destroyed city of Minsk and graduated from there in 1947. During this period, he was much influenced by his physics teacher, Yakov Borisovich Meltserson and developed interest in the subject under his influence.
On Meltserson’s advice, he next entered the Department of Electronics, Ul'yanov Electrotechnical Institute in Leningrad. Here he developed interest in research work and when he was in the third year, started working on semiconductors and vacuum processes; finally graduating from there with a BS degree in Electronics in December, 1952.
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On January 30, 1953, Zhores Ivanovich Alferov joined Physico-Technical Institute, now known as Ioffe Physical-Technical Institute, as junior researcher. Working with a team of young researchers they created the first soviet p-n junction transistor on the 5th of March of the same year.
Slowly, their team began to expand. In a very short span, they created the first Soviet germanium power rectifiers. Concurrently, they continued to work with germanium photodiodes and silicon.
In May 1958, the team was asked to work out a special semiconductor device for the first Soviet atomic submarine. It meant that they would not only have to build another germanium power rectifier, but also have to develop new technology. By the month of October, they succeeded in their mission.
In 1959, the work earned him Order of the Badge of Honour. This was the first of many Sate Honours that he would later get.
In 1961, he earned his candidate degree of sciences in technology (equivalent to MS) from the same institute. His thesis involved working out the power germanium and partially silicon rectifiers. The work contributed to the development of Soviet power semiconductor electronics.
From 1962, Alferov started working on III-V semiconductor heterostructures and by the following year, proposed the first heterostructure laser. Next in 1964, he was promoted to the post of Senior Researcher and continued his work on it.
In 1966, Alferov and his research team developed the first practical heterostructure electronic device. They then went on to create the first electronic components made from heterostructures, including the first heterostructure laser, a device he had proposed in 1963.
In 1967, he was promoted to the post of Senior Research Associate and was made the head of the laboratory at Physico-Technical Institute. Sometime in the same year, he visited STL laboratories in Harlow. He found them to be well equipped, but the scholars there were more interested in the theoretical aspect of heterostructures.
On returning to Leningrad, he continued working in the same direction and in 1968-1969, was able to control the electron and light fluxes in classical heterostructures, based on the arsenid gallium-arsenid aluminum system. Also in 1969, he made his first trip to the United States of America.
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However, Alferov had not earned his PhD as yet and so in 1970, he submitted the gist of his experiments as his doctoral thesis, earning his PhD in the same year. Also in 1970, they created heterostructures based solar cells, which were later mounted on Sputnick.
Work went on at a steady space at the Ioffe Physical-Technical Institute under his guidance. In 1987, he was made the Director of the institute and since 1989 he has been working as the Vice-President of the USSR Academy of Sciences and President of its Saint Petersburg Scientific Center.
Subsequently, Alferov entered politics and in 1995 became a member of the State Duma representing ‘Our Home –Russia’. Later he joined the Communist Party of the Russian Federation and was re-elected to Duma in 1999, 2003 and 2007 as its representative.
Zhores Ivanovich Alferov is best known for his advanced research into III-V semiconductor heterostructures. The work included detailed studies of epitaxy processes, injection properties, lasers, LED’s, and solar cells etc.
Alfred’s work in this respect provided the foundation for optical semiconductors and solar cells. It not only made the Soviet Union's Sputnik program possible, but also laid the foundation for the development of bar-code readers, cellular telephone communications etc.
Awards & Achievements
In 2000, Alferov jointly received the Nobel Prize in Physics "for developing semiconductor heterostructures used in high-speed- and opto-electronics". He shared the prize with Herbert Kroemer, who worked independently on the same topic and Jack Kilby, who invented the integrated circuit.
Other than that, he has received numerous other prizes including Global Energy Prize (2005), Kyoto Prize in Advanced Technology (2001), Demidov Prize (1999), Ioffe Prize (Russian Academy of Sciences, 1996), USSR State Prize (1984), Lenin Prize (1972), Stuart Ballantine Medal (1971) and Franklin's Institute Gold Medal (1971).
Personal Life & Legacy
In 1967, Alferov married Tamara Darskaya, who was working at a big Space Enterprise under the guidance of Academician V.P. Glushko in Moscow. Therefore, for around six months, Alferov had to make weekly trip from Leningrad to Moscow. Later she moved to Leningrad.
Professor Alferov is now the Editor-in-Chief of a Russian journal, Pis'ma v Zhurnal Tekhnicheskoi Fiziki and a member of the Editorial Board of a Russian journal Nauka i Zhizn'.