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June 26, 1948 - Patenting the Grown-Junction Transistor

Posted June 26, 2009 2:51 PM by Steve Melito

On this day in engineering history, William Shockley filed a patent for the grown-junction transistor, the first bipolar junction transistor (BJT). The British-born researcher would later win a share of The Nobel Prize in Physics for his research on semiconductors and the discovery of the transistor effect.

Shockley's development of the grown-junction transistor was just one in a series of important discoveries at Bell Labs in New Jersey. In December 1947, the two men who would share the 1956 Nobel Prize with Shockley, John Bardeen and Walter Houser Brattain, had invented a point-to-point contact transistor that achieved amplification.

The Solid State Physics Group

In 1945, Bell Labs formed a special Solid State Physics Group to produce an alternative to vacuum tube amplifiers, devices which had played a critical role in the development of electronics. Made of glass and filled with gas, vacuum tubes produced an electrical signal by controlling the movement of electrons in a low-pressure space. They were easy to replace, but also fragile and short-lived.

As the head of the Solid State Physics Group, William Shockley labored alongside physicists John Bardeen, Walter Houser Brattain, and Gerald Pearson; chemists Stanley Morgan and Robert Gibney; and electronics export Hilbert Moore. Moore, the creator of a circuit where frequency of the input signal could be varied, worked well with Shockley and Pearson. Shockley's relationship with Bardeen and Brattain became strained, however, when Shockley was excluded from the duo's patent application.

The Sandwich Transistor

While arguing that he deserved credit for the point-to-point contact transistor, Shockley also sought to develop a different type of device. His first grown-junction transistor was made of a single crystal of germanium (a semiconductor material) with two PN junctions. Russell Ohl, another Bell Labs researcher who patented the first modern solar cell, had discovered PN barriers (as they were originally called) and how material impurities made some sections more resistant to electrical flow than others.

Grown-junction transistors are sometimes called "sandwich transistors" because a P-type semiconductor is sandwiched between two N-type layers (or vice versa). In Shockley's process, a seed crystal is pulled from a bath of molten semiconductor to produce a rod-shaped crystal called a boule. At specific times during the growth process, P-type and N-type dopants are applied.

William Shockley's patent for the grown-junction transistor (2,569,347) was issued on September 25, 1951. Although grown-junction transistors represented an important step in the development of solid-state technology, they were difficult to process and seldom effective at frequencies above the audio range.

Resources:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grown_junction_transistor

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Shockley

http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/physics/laureates/1956/

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Russell_Ohl

http://semiconductormuseum.com/PhotoGallery/PhotoGallery_M1752.htm

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#1

Re: June 26, 1948 - Patenting the Grown-Junction Transistor

06/27/2009 5:46 AM

Oh the good old days...when electronics was fun...grubbing about in the cellars of G.W.Smith&Co (Radio) ltd in Lisle Street in the depths of Soho looking at all the army surplus stuff.

OC71 germanium transistors...must be kids today who wouldn't know what to do with a germanium PNP transistor.
Practical Wireless and Everyday Electronics magazines.
Customers coming in wanting the bits to make a 'Hooty Owl' which was the must build Christmas project.
Homemade HiFi amps using complimentary output transistors...huge chipboard speakers. Preamps which motorboated .

Many of us cut our teeth in those long lost days when everything was discrete components.... then the Texan 20 watt amp came out which used op amps in the pre amp!

Ok, I missed the actual war years and birth of the transistor, but I consider myself lucky to have been there as it grew up along with computing....Now where did I put my ZX81?
It just need England to win the World Cup again and all will be right with the world.
That nostalgiafest was bought to you by...
Del

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Re: June 26, 1948 - Patenting the Grown-Junction Transistor

06/27/2009 10:24 AM

All it takes is 470 uF on Vcc and you motorboarding days are over .

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#2

Re: June 26, 1948 - Patenting the Grown-Junction Transistor

06/27/2009 8:54 AM

The first short wave receivers with Japanese 2SA58 in the mixer...

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Re: June 26, 1948 - Patenting the Grown-Junction Transistor

06/27/2009 10:16 AM

And today we can cram 2.5 billion of these suckers onto a couple square inches of silicon.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transistor_count

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Re: June 26, 1948 - Patenting the Grown-Junction Transistor

06/27/2009 10:54 AM

Would have made a great "What's this?"

linky : http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Transistor_count

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Re: June 26, 1948 - Patenting the Grown-Junction Transistor

06/27/2009 11:19 AM

Would have made a great "What's this?".

Nah, all us old electronics lags would have spotted it faster than you can turn on an FET
Del

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Re: June 26, 1948 - Patenting the Grown-Junction Transistor

06/28/2009 12:55 AM

'lags' better not mean what I think it means.

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Re: June 26, 1948 - Patenting the Grown-Junction Transistor

06/28/2009 4:34 AM

'Old lag'
Originally an 'ex convict' but now generally used for any old person/ex member of some establishment, club etc.
What did you think it meant?
Del

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Re: June 26, 1948 - Patenting the Grown-Junction Transistor

06/28/2009 12:21 PM

On this side of the pond it's 'old fart'. Sigh.

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