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GORDON K. TEAL
1907–2003

Elected in 1969


“In recognition of his pioneering research on single crystals of germanium and silicon and his co-invention and reduction to practice of the single crystal grown junction transistor, contributions which must be ranked among the most critical and essential to the development of the semiconductor industry and electronics.”


BY DON W. SHAW


GORDON K. TEAL, a key participant in the development of the transistor, died on January 7, 2003, at the age of 95. The first transistors, fabricated in polycrystalline germanium at Bell Labs, were unstable and exhibited erratic behavior. Gordon recognized that grain boundaries and other defects characteristic of polycrystalline materials were the likely reasons for this poor performance. He managed to prepare small single crystals and, with remarkable perseverance, convinced his colleagues at Bell Telephone Laboratories to test transistors fabricated from them. The results were dramatic improvements in transistor stability and reproducibility.

Gordon Teal was born January 10, 1907, in Dallas, Texas. He graduated from high school with the highest scholastic average in Dallas and went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in physics and chemistry from Baylor University and a doctorate in physical chemistry from Brown University. While a student at Brown, Gordon studied germanium, an exotic material that fascinated him, partly because of its “uselessness.”



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