Alfred Y. Cho

National Medal of Science

Engineering

For his pioneering work in the development of molecular beam epitaxy, which revolutionized thin film growth, making possible atomically accurate structures for electronic and proelecronic devices, and for the study of new quantum phenomena.

National Medal of Technology and Innovation

Electronics

For his contributions to the invention of the molecular beam epitaxy (MBE) technology and the development of the MBE technology into an advanced electronic and photonic devices production tool, with applications to cellular phones, CD players, and high-speed communications.

For his pioneering work in the development of molecular beam epitaxy, which revolutionized thin film growth, making possible atomically accurate structures for electronic and proelecronic devices, and for the study of new quantum phenomena.

For his contributions to the invention of the molecular beam epitaxy (MBE) technology and the development of the MBE technology into an advanced electronic and photonic devices production tool, with applications to cellular phones, CD players, and high-speed communications.

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Birth
July 10, 1937
Age Awarded
56 (Science)
68 (Technology)
Country of Birth
China
Key Contributions
System That Simplifies The Creation Of CD Players
Wifi Semiconductors
Photovoltaic Cells
Awarded by
Bill Clinton (Science)
George W. Bush (Technology)
Education
University of Illinois
Areas of Impact
Communication & Information
Affiliations
Alcatel-Lucent Bell Labs
Other Prizes
National Inventors Hall of Fame
M

Molecular beam epitaxy, or MBE, is the process of growing high-purity crystals one atomic layer at a time. This allows engineers to create highly precise materials for a number of advanced electronics. If you have used a microwave oven, watched a DVD, listened to a CD, made a call on your cell phone, or you are reading these words on a computer, you have taken advantage of molecular beam epitaxy. And, for that, you have Alfred Y. Cho to thank.

If not for a warning from his mother, Cho nearly studied art instead of becoming a pioneer in engineering. “If you major in art, you’ll be very hungry,” she said, urging him to study medicine. Queasy around blood, Cho then looked to his siblings for inspiration. His older brother had decided to study mechanical engineering, Cho later recalled, and his older sister had picked architecture. “‘What’s left? What can I pick?’” Cho said he asked himself. “So that’s how I ended up with my field of electric engineering.”

By Jake New

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