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Seminal figure in the history of semiconductor physics to deliver new lecture series

For 50 years, W. Conyers Herring has been a key player in the development of solid state physics, the scientific discipline on which digital telephones, computers, video games, stereos, radios and all the electronic wizardry of modern life depend.

The professor emeritus of applied physics has added greatly to the knowledge of the electrical, magnetic and other physical properties of ordinary and exotic solids. Herring, for example, developed the first practical method for calculating the electronic structure of solids, including silicon.

Now 83, Herring has agreed to give a series of six lectures on the evolution of this critical scientific discipline. His mastery of theory and careful attention to experiment gave him an international reputation as the leading authority in semiconductor physics for many decades ­ first at Bell Laboratories and then at Stanford. That work also give him a unique perspective on the intellectual and institutional forces that drove the revolutionary advances in knowledge.

Herring's lectures will be historically significant, says Aharon Kapitulnik, chair of applied physics. "There is hardly a subject in this field that Herring did not influence, so his lectures will provide unique information and insights into the development of solid state physics, and the semiconductor industry that has been built upon it."

Herring's opening lecture will take place on Wednesday, May 20, and will deal with "Setting the Stage: The Gradual Acceptance of the Atomic Picture of Matter." On May 27, he will address the subject of "Structure and Dynamics of Perfect Crystals of Quasiclassical Atoms." Both lectures will be delivered on campus in the new Science and Engineering Quad's Teaching Center, Room 201, from 4 to 5:30 p.m. They are free and open to the public.

Herring will deliver four additional lectures in the Autumn Quarter of 1998-99. The topics will be: "The Role of Quasiclassical Defects, Boundaries and Disorder," "Quantum States of Electrons in Solids: Local or One-Electron Aspects," "Collective Behavior of Electrons" and "New Aspects of Randomness."

Many groups have invited Herring to talk on these topics, but health considerations have kept him from traveling. So the Applied Physics Department is videotaping the series and will provide the tapes to interested groups after the talks are completed. For more information, contact the Applied Physics Department at (650) 723-4027 or send e-mail to


By David F. Salisbury

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