C8. Commission on Semiconductors

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Report to the IUPAP Council and Commission Chair Meeting
September 28-29, 2001

Report on the Activities of the Commission C8
Since Last Year's Meeting of Chairs and Council in Beijing

The highlight of the commission's activities was the biannual 25th Int. Conference on the Physics of Semiconductors, 25th ICPS, held in Osaka in August 2000. The number of participants was about 1100, from 36 countries. 43 invited papers, plus 995 selected from 1300 submitted abstracts, were delivered. The venue was a new, centrally located conference compound and hotel. The organizers offered a wide range of hotel accommodations, ranging from university dormitories to luxurious suites at the elegant conference hotel. The conference was a financial success, ending with a surplus which was used to present IUPAP with a number of hard copies of the proceedings to distribute to lesser privileged institutions and a donation of $20,000 to add to the fund for awards to the best papers by young investigators. This fund was initially started by a gift from IBM about 10 years ago and its interests were used to provide 10 awards of $500 each to 10 young scientists chosen by the program committee on the basis of submitted contributions. In later years, the award was complemented by one or two books (to each awardee) on semiconductor physics gracefully provided by the publishers. These awards were handed over in a nice Japanese ceremony before the closing of the conference.

A curious incident arose in Osaka concerning the awards. One of the awardees, without prior notice, replaced the award talk by a completely different one; it appeared that the work submitted with the award application was found to be wrong. This was immediately reported by unsuccessful award applicants to the conference organizers who had a talk with the "dubious" awardee and convinced him to withdraw his application, which he did. So, instead of the original 8 awards, only 7 were given.

Because of the decrease in interest rates, the originally planned 10 awards would now have to be reduced to 6 with the extant principal. The Japanese gift should allow us to increase the number of awards to the original 10.

I would like to report a very nice "happening" that took place at the opening of the conference. We were told a few weeks ahead of time that the conference would be opened by a "gracious speech" to be given in English by Prince Takamado, a first cousin of the present Emperor, in the presence of "his" Princess. Their imperial highnesses arrived in the afternoon before the opening of the conference, gave a dinner for the Organizing committee and the plenary speakers and remained 20 hours at the conference site, attending meetings and poster sessions and asking questions on general matters from participants! Young scientists from the West were enormously impressed, being used to politicians coming to opening sessions, saying a couple of words in an incomprehensible language, and leaving right away. The rather witty "gracious speech" has been printed in the conference proceedings, two volumes published in the conventional hard cover way by Springer Verlag. By the way, it is the nearly unanimous opinion of the C8 that hard copy publishing should continue for the time being. A question that has arisen is the need for refereeing of the printed contributions, possibly on-site.

Highlights at the conference were nanotechnology, in particular carbon nanotubes, spin electronics and quantum computation, ab initio computational theory of electronic and vibronic properties and organic materials.

These highlights also found expression in the Nobel Prizes in Physics which were awarded 2 months after the conference: Heterojunctions (Krömer), heterojunction lasers (Alferof) and integrated circuits (Kilby). Also, the chemistry awards (Heeger, McDiarmid, Shirakawa) had a strong semiconductors flavor. In fact, the most important highlights during the past year had to do with properties of carbon compounds: anthracene, tetracene, which have been prepared with extremely high low-temperature mobilities and have been used to make lasers and to observe the quantum Hall effect, and with doped C60 films, whose superconductivity seems to have been raised to over 100 K by application of electric fields (FET-configuration), pending confirmation.

The next (26th) ICPS will take place in Edinburgh (July 29-August 2, 2002). A preliminary assignment for the venue of the 2004 conference (to be conformed at the 26th ICPS) has been made: it should take place in Flagstaff, Arizona in the year 2004, hosted by Arizona State University and Motorola scientists. We have already two bids (Melbourne, Seoul) for the year 2006.

We have succeeded during the past years to appoint as vice-chairman of C8 an industrial scientist (during the two past periods two different scientists from Philips, the Netherlands). Nevertheless, industrial participation at the ICPS has been dwindling. The main reason is the fact that semiconductors technology is a mature field, rapidly getting away from its basic roots. Decrease in basic research at industrial laboratories has also played a role. C8 has made an effort to slow down this process (e.g. by organizing symposia on semiconductors technology at the ICPS) but the success has been limited. We hope that the involvement of MOTOROLA in the organization of the 27th ICPS will have a positive effect in industrial participation.

Manuel Cardona
Chairman, C8
October 2001

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