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ROBERT W. KEYES

1921–2010

Elected in 1976

“For systematic development of a definitive theory of the
fundamental limits of digital computer devices.”

BY MARSHALL I. NATHAN

ROBERT W. KEYES, a condensed matter physicist and major contributor in the areas of the physics of computation and semiconductor physics, died on April 5, 2010, after an accidental fall.

Bob was born on December 2, 1921, in Chicago. He grew up there, attending Parker and Calumet high schools and graduating from the latter in 1939. He attended the University of Chicago and received his bachelor’s degree in physics in 1942. His education was then interrupted during the remainder of World War II by a stint in the U.S. Navy, where he served as an electronics technician. After the war in 1946 he started work at Argonne National Laboratory. In 1950 he returned to the University of Chicago for graduate study. He got his Ph.D. in physics in 1953, under the direction of Andy Lawson. For his research he measured the electrical conductivity of liquid germanium and studied the electrical properties of black phosphorus under hydrostatic pressure.

After receiving his Ph.D., Bob joined the newly formed Westinghouse Research Laboratory in suburban Pittsburgh. There he built a high-pressure laboratory of the Bridgman type, working to 12 kilobars. He and other researchers used this facility to study the electrical properties of silicon and germanium group and III-V (from the Periodic Table)



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