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Leo Esaki

Leo EsakiAKA Esaki Reiona

Born: 12-Mar-1925
Birthplace: Osaka, Japan

Gender: Male
Race or Ethnicity: Asian
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Physicist

Nationality: Japan
Executive summary: Electron tunneling

Leo Esaki discovered the forward bias tunneling effect in semiconductors, a quantum phenomenon which lets electrons and other particles escape through a potential barrier, which theoretical physicists had previously believed was impossible. Tunneling is based on wave equations of quantum mechanics, instead of the classical theories of physics, wherein electrons are dealt with as particles.

His 1958 discovery of tunneling led to his invention two years later of the Esaki diode, the first quantum electron device, which uses quantum mechanical effects to allow electrons to pass through junctions less than a hundred atoms thick, and diminishes current as voltage is increased with negative resistance. He won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1973.

Father: Soichiro Esaki (architect)
Mother: Niyoko Ito
Wife: Masako Araki (m. 1959, two daughters, one son)
Daughter: Nina
Daughter: Anna
Son: Eugene
Wife: Masako Kondo (m. 1986, no children)

    High School: Third High School, Tokyo
    University: BS, Tokyo University (1947)
    University: PhD, Tokyo University (1959)
    Teacher: Adjunct Professor, Waseda University, Japan
    Administrator: President, University of Tsukuba (1993-99)
    Administrator: President, Shibaura Institute of Technology (2000-05)

    IBM Fellow (1967-92)
    IBM Research Scientist (1960-67)
    Sony Manager of Semiconductor Dept, Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo (1956-60)
    Kobe Kogyo Physicist (1947-56)
    Member of the Board of IBM IBM-Japan (1976-92)
    Member of the Board of Open Loop Ltd. (2000-)
    Nishina Memorial Award 1959
    Asahi Press Award 1960
    Toyo Rayon Foundation Award 1960
    IRE Morris Liebmann Memorial Award 1961
    Franklin Institute Stuart Ballantine Medal 1961
    The Imperial Prize of the Japan Academy 1965
    Nobel Prize for Physics 1973 (with Ivar Giaever and Brian D. Josephson)
    Japanese Order of Culture 1974
    ACS International Prize for New Materials 1985
    IEEE Medal of Honor 1991
    Japan Prize 1998
    Order of the Rising Sun 1998
    American Academy of Arts and Sciences Foreign Fellow, 1974
    American Philosophical Society Foreign Member, 1991
    Italian National Academy of Science Foreign Member
    The Japan Academy 1975
    Korean Academy of Science and Technology Foreign Member
    Max Planck Society for the Advancement of Science Foreign Member, 1989
    National Academy of Engineering Foreign Associate, 1977
    Russian Academy of Sciences Foreign Member
    Yamada Science Foundation Board of Driectors, 1976-present

Author of books:
Large Scale Integrated Circuits Technology (1982, physics; with Giovanni Soncini)

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