C8. Commission on Semiconductors

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Report to the 2002 General Assembly for 1999-2002
Berlin, Germany
October 7-12, 2002

Report on Activities of Commission

The main activities of the commission were centered around the organization and supervision of the biannual International Conferences on the Physics of Semiconductors (ICPS), perhaps the most important forum in the field of the physics of these technologically important materials, with a participation that fluctuated around 1000. Two conferences were held during the report period:

  1. The 25th ICPS, in Osaka, Japan, 1050 participants, Sept. 17?22, 2000.
  2. The 26th ICPS in Edinburgh, Scotland, 1043 participants, July 29-Aug.2, 2002.

These conferences were accompanied by a number of more specialized satellite meetings held either before or after the ICPS on subjects such as high pressure in semiconductors physics, semiconductors in high magnetic fields, super-lattices and nanostructures, shallow-level centers, nitride semiconductors, etc. Some of these satellite conferences were also sponsored by IUPAP (category B).

Although it took place before the period covered by this report, I feel that I should recall that the 24th ICPS took place in Jerusalem in 1998, at a time when such venue was still possible but heavy clouds were beginning to gather in the horizon. The venue was agreed upon at the 22nd ICPS held in Vancouver in 1994, at the height of the Camp David euphoria and among rumors of the impending Nobel Prize for peace (granted in October of that year to Arafat, Peres and Rabin). Because of rise in terrorism and unrest, many of the usual participants began to worry early in 1998 about the Jerusalem venue. There were even rumors that the Japanese government would not allow its citizens to participate in a conference in Jerusalem, for security reasons. The commission looked into the matter, in close collaboration with the Israeli colleagues, and even considered viable and possibly safer alternatives to Jerusalem within Israel. The conclusion was reached that there were no alternatives. We looked at security matters and they sounded convincing. Also the Gods were propitious to us and let the number of terror incidents diminish considerably during the months before the meeting. We thus agree to go ahead in Jerusalem. We then had to engage in a public relations campaign to dispel the worries of potential participants. The outcome was a wonderful meeting with 767 registered attendees. Participants, including spouses, felt free to browse through Jerusalem and security was both efficient and inconspicuous. It is sad to realize that such event could not take place today. IUPAP and all scientists should, in my opinion, work together to bring about the political settlement that will allow the conditions for such scientific events to take place again, to the great benefit of both contending parties.

One very popular event at recent ICPS meetings is the granting of about eight young investigator awards to scientists who had not received the PhD or received it one or two years before the conference. This policy was first financed by the surpluses of previous conferences, the principal being then complemented by a generous grant from IBM and, last year, by $25000 deeded to IUPAP for that purpose by the organizers of the OSAKA ICPS: it was the surplus from the meeting budget. We are very thankful to our Japanese colleagues for this generous and badly needed gift that as brought up the total principal to about $48000. Because of the drop in the interest rates, in recent years it has become impossible to finance the awards only from the interest. Thanks to the OSAKA grant we are in good shape again (unless interest rates continue to drop).

The 25"' ICPS was held in Osaka at a new and very comfortable conference center attached to a luxury hotel but with a number of other hotels in all price ranges within walking distance. Inexpensive dormitory accommodation was also available to students who were able to register with a strongly reduced fee. A rather friendly gesture of the conference organizers and the Imperial Household was to send to the opening ceremony Prince and Princess Takamado. The Prince, who spoke perfect, almost native English (so did the Princess), gave a rather witty address at the opening ceremony (it has been printed in the Conference Proceedings, published by Springer). Their Imperial Highnesses stayed in the conference premises for a whole day, attending talks and poster sessions and talking to participants, especially young ones. Participants, especially those from western countries, were very impressed and often mentioned the contrast with western politicians attending opening ceremonies and often giving an address in a language hardly anyone understands.

An important IUPAP function at the ICPS is the meeting of the C8 commission members in which the vital statistics of the ongoing conference are presented by the organizers and possible problems are discussed. The main point in the agenda is the tentative decision about the site of the conference to be held four years later and the final decision about the next one. It was TENTATIVELY decided in Osaka (and finally confirmed in Edinburgh) that the 2004 27th ICPS will take place in Flagstaff, Arizona, With Professor Fernando Ponce (Arizona State University) as Chairman and Dr. Stefan Zollner (Motorola) as Secretary. We believe that this combination of Academic and industrial management will help to revive the interest on the ICPS in industrial circles, which unfortunately has been dwindling in recent years. The important position of Chairman of the Program Committee will be held by Chris VandeWalle (PARC, Palo Alto, CA). The venue will be the Campus of Northern Arizona University (NSU), a university that caters to about 25000 students, many of them from nearby Indian reservations (Navajo, Hopi, etc). The site is rather close to magnificent natural attractions such as Grand Canyon. The venue will considerably reduce the cost: commercial conference centers, such as the one in Edinburgh, absorb about one third of the budget, an amount which is hard to cover within the maximum fees allowed by IUPAP. The site of the 28th ICPS was tentatively set in Edinburgh to be Vienna (2006). The exact venue is still the object of negotiations aiming at keeping the cost low while guaranteeing proper facilities and comfort. The decision was made on the face of strong competition from Korea. We hope that our Korean colleagues will be able to host the ICPS in 2008.

I have just returned from the 26"' ICPS held in Edinburgh at an architecturally most impressive conference center with excellent facilities on all counts (unfortunately the fees were on the high side). The program, especially the lectures for oral presentation, was excellent having been put together by a new generation of scientists, possibly the first break with the usual old guard. The conference was managed with the help of the Conference Department of the Institute of Physics and a number of decisions were not in the hands of the conference organizers. This led to some friction between them and IUPAP that demanded a lot of my time but was kept mostly under control. The main problem involved the conference fees that, depending on which rate of exchange you take, was about 15% above the maximum allowed by IUPAP. This was particularly burdensome because of the fact that the Pound is already grossly overvalued, thus making the attendance cost very high, especially to participants from EUROLAND. Attempts to provide free lunch boxes to all participants were not accepted by the organizers who ended up with a rather large surplus. They used it to subsidize participants from third world countries (about 140 of them). A surplus of about $5000 was left which will be absorbed (following contractual terms) by the Institute of Physics. We have to face the fact that conferences in Britain, at least till they join EUROLAND, are going to be very expensive. Even dormitory accommodation is expensive. In view of this experience, I would like to suggest to IUPAP that the maximum conference fee, whatever it is, be mandatory, without leeway for subterfuges such as providing "lunch boxes."

An interesting fact that transpired in Edinburgh: There were about 30 registrations from Nigeria, three of them paid, also about eight from Senegal. None of the registrants had submitted an abstract. The organizers were aware of such occurrences, apparently a way to obtain visas to enter the country where the conference is held. IUPAP should find a way of not being party to such behavior without compromising the open nature of all sponsored meetings.

Another disturbing point is the decreasing size of the United States Delegation to the ICPS which started, of all places, in Vancouver in 1994. In Edinburgh it was the fourth by size, after Japan, Germany, and the UK (it was one-third of the size of the Japanese delegation!!!) We hope that the trend will be reversed in Flagstaff, but even there we have our doubts.

The recent allegations of possible unethical or even fraudulent behavior involving LUCENT and some of its scientists are by now common knowledge; and these allegations may have been clarified by the LUCENT appointed committee by the time the General Assembly is being held. It is very disturbing indeed and may affect many of us. There are still colleagues putting graduate students to work on proving that the work was correct, thus far without success. One aspect the incident has raised is the responsibility of coauthors for the contents of papers they put their names to. Many of the coauthors involved in the LUCENT affair disclaim any responsibility. While German and other European agencies have very clear statements saying that all coauthors are responsible for the content of a given paper, the APS, for instance, does not. IUPAP should consider making a statement on the ethical issues. By the way, there are at this time other murky affairs involving industrial companies.

A happier note, the physics Nobel Prize 2000 was granted to Alferov, Kroemer and Kilby for seminal work in semiconductor physics and technology.

Manuel Cardona
August 30, 2002

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