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Memorial Tributes, Volume 14
Elected in 1973
“For pioneering work in the invention of the grown junction transistor.”
BY WILLIAM MURPHY
SUBMITTED BY THE NAE HOME SECRETARY
MORGAN SPARKS, the man who “invented” the Sandia National Laboratories we know today, died on May 3, 2008, at his daughter’s home in Fullerton, California, at the age of 91. Morgan had a distinguished 30-year career with Bell Laboratories, and is best remembered for his role in developing the first “grown-junction transistor,” the semiconductor device recognized as one of the first building blocks of the digital age.
Born in 1916 in Pagosa Springs, Colorado, and raised in Texas, Sparks received his bachelor’s and master’s degrees in chemistry at Rice University before earning his Ph.D. in physical chemistry from the University of Illinois in 1943. That same year, he began his long tenure at Bell Telephone Laboratories in Murray Hill, New Jersey, working on batteries for naval torpedoes in the Electrochemical Research Department. In 1948 he joined the new Bell Labs Semiconductor Physics Group, just as it was about to announce the invention of the first transistor. As a member of this group, Morgan made seminal contributions to the development of the junction transistor conceived that year by physicist William Shockley.