UC Davis Professor Elected To National Academy Of Engineering

March 09, 1999

Professor Robert Bower, who invented the basic transistor structure used in the vast majority of computer and memory chips -- now the most replicated artificial structure on Earth -- is one of 80 new members of the National Academy of Engineering.

The professor of electrical and computer engineering was recognized for his work on a transistor called the self-aligned gate MOSFET and for establishing ion implantation as a major tool in the manufacture of semiconductor integrated circuits.

The self-aligned gate transistor transformed the early MOSFET from a slow, difficult-to-design structure to a fast, easy-to-design, highly scaleable device that has become the fundamental building block of virtually all modern integrated circuit chips. Millions are used in computers and other electronic devices. Ion-implantation technology has become a major element of the modern semiconductor manufacturing industry.

"Bob Bower is a brilliant engineering genius whose creativity and energy will help us build a preeminent solid-state electronics group at UC Davis," said engineering dean Alan Laub.

"We are all extremely proud of the accomplishments of Professor Bower, who is the first member of our department elected to the National Academy of Engineering," said Bernard Levy, chair of the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. "We are happy to see the invention of the self-aligning gate, which was a fundamental development in integrated circuit technology, receive its due recognition."

Bower devised the self-aligning gate in the 1960s at the Hughes Research Laboratories in Malibu. He moved in 1987 to UC Davis, where he studies methods of expanding semiconductor chips from conventional two-dimensional structures to faster, denser three-dimensional ones.

"As an innovator and technologist, I have had the wonderful opportunity of helping shape the silicon world of the 20th century," Bower said. "What is even more exciting to me is my new attempt to create three-dimensional structures that will lead us into the 21st century."

Election to the National Academy of Engineering is among the highest professional distinctions accorded an engineer. Academy membership honors those who have made important contributions to engineering theory and practice, and those who have demonstrated unusual accomplishment in the pioneering of new and developing fields of technology.

Six other UC Davis professors are also members of National Academy of Engineering: Robert Fridley, biological and agricultural engineering; Richard Christensen, applied science; Izzat Idriss, civil and environmental engineering; Ray Krone, civil and environmental engineering; Gerald Orlob, civil and environmental engineering; and Joe Smith, chemical engineering.

In 1997, Bower was elected to the Inventors Hall of Fame by a selection committee made up of representatives from 40 national scientific and technical organizations. He was only the third professor from the University of California elected to the hall. In the same year, he was the first UC faculty member to receive the Ronald H. Brown American Innovator Award from the U.S. Department of Commerce.

Bower received his bachelor's degree in physics in 1962 from the University of California, Berkeley, and his master's and Ph.D. degrees in electrical engineering and applied physics in 1963 and 1973 from the California Institute of Technology. He worked 25 years in industry before joining the University of California. He has written more than 70 journal and conference papers and chapters in three books and holds 24 U.S. patents.

University of California - Davis

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