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1 Jun, 2009 05:06

The physicist who revolutionized communication technology

Physicist Zhores Alferov spent almost 60 years of his life working on semiconductors – which won him the Nobel Prize in 2000. Today he heads one of the most innovative labs in Russia researching nanotechnologies.

Alferov’s most significant work is in semiconductor design. Semiconductors are everywhere, from washing machines to CD players and cell phones – all the gadgets that entertain, connect, inform and cure you.

“Lasers existed before me, but it didn’t work at room temperature, and burnt out very quickly. I found a way to make them last,” Zhores Alferov explains.

The wave of research led to the appearance and rapid development of optical fiber communications. It was a revolution in the telecommunications industry, making it possible to make thousands of phone calls per second just by sending light impulses down the fiber lines.

The results of his inventions are widely used in the production of solar batteries. Alferov has been campaigning for solar energy in Russia for years now, but for decades the country has used it mostly in space.

Alferov is currently Vice President of the Russian Academy of Sciences and also heads its nano and information technologies department.