Inventor of silicon chips
Comrade, 94; died February 26
Tanenbaum’s research in the mid-1950s proved that silicon was a better semiconductor material for transistors than germanium, which was widely used at the time. His discovery paved the way for more efficient transistors, crucial to the technology that ushered in the information age.
He began his career in 1952 at Bell Labs in Murray Hill, New Jersey as a researcher in the Department of Chemical Physics. Two years later, under the guidance of physicist and inventor William Shockley, then at Bell Labs, Tanenbaum began to investigate whether silicon crystals could be used to make transistors.
In 1955, he and his colleague Ernest Buehler demonstrated the first silicon transistor.
Tanenbaum later developed the first silicon gas diffusion transistor that could amplify and switch signals above 100 megahertz at a switching speed 10 times faster than previous silicon transistors.
Despite Tanenbaum’s early work on silicon transistors, AT&T was not supportive of further research or advancement of the technology. At the time, Bell Labs was the research arm of AT&T. Although Bell Labs had “a significant technological advantage in silicon transistor technology, it stopped doing proper research in this area – in part because it simply wasn’t directly related to AT&T’s business – so silicon transistor technology, including integrated circuits, was developed by Intel. instead, Texas Instruments,” Tanenbaum said in a 1999 oral history held by the IEEE History Center.
Instead, Tanenbaum worked on other new technologies in the following decades. In 1962, he was appointed Associate Director of the Metallurgical Division of Bell Labs. There he led the team that created the first high-field superconducting magnets, which are now used in MRI machines and other medical imaging technologies. He later helped develop optical fiber and digital telephone switching.
Tanenbaum continued to serve as president of AT&T New Jersey Bell (now part of Verizon) in the late 1970s and early 1980s.
He was named president of AT&T Communications in 1984. After five years, he retired as vice chairman and chief financial officer of AT&T.
A member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, he was also a Fellow of the American Physical Society and a member of the Board of Trustees of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
He received his bachelor’s degree in chemistry in 1949 from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore and completed his Ph.D. in physical chemistry from Princeton.
Pioneer of photovoltaics
Lifetime comrade, 94; died February 24
Goetzberger was an early proponent of solar energy technology. Today, solar energy is the third largest renewable electricity sector after hydropower and wind.
Together with physicist Armin Zastrow, he developed the concept of agrovoltaics – the use of land for both agriculture and solar energy production.
After receiving his doctorate in physics in 1955 from the Ludwig Maximilian University of Munich, Goetzberger joined Siemens, a multinational conglomerate, also in Munich. He then moved to the United States in 1958 to work as a senior scientist at the Shockley Semiconductor Laboratory in Palo Alto, California.
After five years at Shockley, he moved to Bell Labs in Murray Hill, New Jersey, where he did research in metal-oxide-semiconductor technology. He returned to Germany in 1968 and became director of the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Solid State Physics (IAF) in Freiburg. Three years later, while at the IAF, he was appointed honorary professor in the Faculty of Physics at the University of Freiburg.
In 1981 Goetzberger also founded the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems (ISE) in Freiburg, now Europe’s largest research institute for solar energy. That same year, he and Zastrow introduced an agro-electric concept in which solar panels are installed over greenhouses or over field crops to maximize land use. As of 2021, agro-electric systems were capable of producing more than 14 gigawatts of electricity, according to an ISE estimate.
In the early 1980s, Goetzberger pioneered research into fluorescent planar collector concentrators, using photovoltaic (PV) material mixed with fluorescent dyes to separate different wavelengths of light and convert them using solar cells with different band gaps. The research paved the way for more efficient solar energy production. Under Goetzberger’s leadership, ISE developed the first high-efficiency all-electronic inverter for off-grid photovoltaic systems.
Goetzberger was director of the ISE until his retirement in 1993. He then served as President of the German Solar Energy Society (DGS) from 1993 to 1997. DGS, headquartered in Berlin, supports the integration of solar technology and renewable energy into the energy grid. .
He co-authored the seminal 2005 textbook. Photovoltaic solar energy.
Goetzberger, holder of over 30 patents in Europe, was awarded the 2009 European Patent Office Lifetime Achievement Award. European Commission Award and Cherry Award from the IEEE Electronic Devices Society. IEEE EDS also honored him with the 1983 Ebers Prize for his development of the silicon field-effect transistor, which uses an electric field to control the flow of current in a semiconductor. Goetzberger was the first German to receive this honor.
Peter W. Sauer
2022 IEEE Nikola Tesla Award Winner
Lifetime comrade, 75; died December 27
Sauer was a professor of electrical and computer engineering at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign, where he taught courses and directed research in the field of power systems.
In 2022, he received the Nikola Tesla Award from the IEEE “for his contributions to dynamic modeling and simulation of synchronous generators, and for his leadership in the field of energy education.”
Sauer served in the US Air Force as an electrical engineer, designing and constructing airfield lighting systems and power distribution systems at Langley Air Force Base in Virginia. He retired from active duty in 1973 but continued to serve in the Air Force Reserve for nearly three decades, retiring in 1998 as a lieutenant colonel.
He joined the University of Illinois in 1977 as a professor. His research there focused on how to improve the stability of power supply systems through large-scale simulations.
In 1991 and 1992, he served as Director of the Power Systems Program in the Electrical and Communications Systems Division of the National Science Foundation.
In 1996, he co-founded PowerWorld, a power systems information and analysis company in Champaign, Illinois. Transmission planners and system operators use the company’s PowerWorld Simulator, a suite of interactive software tools, to simulate power system operation under various conditions. He retired in 2019.
Sauer, a member of the National Academy of Engineering, wrote: Energy System Dynamics and Stabilityand he has authored or co-authored over 200 technical articles.
In 2020, he received the IEEE Power & Energy Society Lifetime Achievement Award “for his exceptional long-term contributions to the modeling and dynamic analysis of energy systems, and for his leadership in the field of energy education.”
After receiving a bachelor’s degree in electrical engineering in 1969 from the University of Missouri at Rolle (now Missouri University of Science and Technology), he received his master’s and doctoral degrees in electrical engineering from Purdue University in West Lafayette, Indiana. in 1974 and 1977 respectively.
Robert W. “Bob” Lawson
Senior member, 89; died November 18
Lawson worked for Bell Telephone of Pennsylvania (now part of AT&T) in Pittsburgh for 35 years. He rose through the ranks and retired in 1988 as a member of the executive team.
During the Korean War, he served in the US Navy as a cipher technician specializing in airborne, shipborne, and ground-based radar signals.
He began his civilian career in 1953 as a telephone installer for Bell. At that time, he also attended night school at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, where he received an associate engineering degree in 1963.
After leaving Bell in 1988, he began working with the US government as a telecommunications contractor. He also worked for several years as an engineer for IT services company Unisys in Blue Bell, Pennsylvania. He then became a consultant; his main customer was the Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (now PLDT) in Makati. He retired from consulting in 1998.
Lawson enjoyed playing billiards, flying kites, singing, playing golf, and helping his neighbors solve technical problems.