Leo Esaki

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Leo Esaki
Leo Esaki 1959.jpg
Leo Esaki in 1959
Born (1925-03-12) March 12, 1925 (age 98)
Osaka, Japan
Nationality Japanese
Fields Applied physics
Known for electron tunneling, Esaki diode
Notable awards Asahi Prize (1959)
Stuart Ballantine Medal (1961)
Nobel Prize in Physics (1973)
Harold Pender Award (1989)
IEEE Medal of Honor (1991)
Japan Prize (1998)

Reona Esaki (江崎 玲於奈 Esaki Reona, born March 12, 1925), also known as Leo Esaki, is a Japanese physicist who shared the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1973 with Ivar Giaever and Brian David Josephson for his discovery of the phenomenon of electron tunneling. He is known for his invention of the Esaki diode, which exploited that phenomenon. This research was done when he was with Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo (now known as Sony). He has also contributed in being a pioneer of the semiconductor superlattice while he was with IBM.


He was born in Osaka, Japan. He studied physics at the University of Tokyo, where he received his B.Sc. in 1947 and his Ph.D. in 1959. Esaki was awarded the Nobel Prize[1] for research conducted around 1958 regarding electron tunneling[2] in solids. He moved to the United States in 1960 and joined the IBM T. J. Watson Research Center, where he became an IBM Fellow in 1967. His first paper on the semiconductor superlattice[3] was published when he was with IBM. A comment by Esaki in a 1987 number of Current Contents regarding the original paper on superlattices notes:

"The original version of the paper was rejected for publication by Physical Review on the referee's unimaginative assertion that it was 'too speculative' and involved 'no new physics.' However, this proposal was quickly accepted by the Army Research Office..."[4]

Subsequently, he was the President of various Japanese universities, for example, University of Tsukuba and Shibaura Institute of Technology. Since 2006 he is the President of the Yokohama College of Pharmacy. Esaki is also the recipient of The International Center in New York's Award of Excellence, the Order of Culture (1974) and the Grand Cordon of the Order of the Rising Sun (1998).


  1. Esaki, Leo, "Long Journey into Tunneling," Nobel Lecture, December 12, 1973.
  2. Lua error in package.lua at line 80: module 'strict' not found.
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  4. "This Weeks's Citation Classic", Current Contents No 28, July 13, 1987.

Further reading

  • Large scale integrated circuits technology : state of the art and prospects : proceedings of the NATO Advanced Study Institute on "Large Scale Integrated Circuits Technology: State of the Art and Prospects," Erice, Italy, July 15–27, 1981 / edited by Leo Esaki and Giovanni Soncini (1982)
  • Highlights in condensed matter physics and future prospects / edited by Leo Esaki (1991)

See also

External links