Zhores Ivanovich Alferov is a Soviet and Russian physicist and academic who contributed significantly to the creation of modern heterostructure physics and electronics. He is the inventor of the heterotransistor and the winner of 2000 Nobel Prize in Physics. He is also a Russian politician and has been a member of the lower house of the Russian parliament the State Duma, since 1995.
Alferov was born in Vitebsk, Byelorussian SSR, Soviet Union, to a Belarusian father, Ivan Karpovich Alferov, a factory manager, and a Jewish mother, Anna Vladimirovna Rosenblum. Zhores was named after French socialist Jean Jaurès while his older brother was named Marx after Karl Marx. In 1947 he completed high school 42 in Minsk and started Belarusian Polytechnic Academy. In 1952, he graduated from V. I. Ulyanov (Lenin) Electrotechnical Institute in Leningrad. Since 1953 he has worked in the Ioffe Physico-Technical Institute of the USSR Academy of Sciences. From the Institute, he earned several scientific degrees: a Candidate of Sciences in Technology in 1961 and a Doctor of Sciences in Physics and Mathematics in 1970. He has been director of the Institute from 1987 to 2003. He was elected a corresponding member of the USSR Academy of Sciences in 1972, and a full member in 1979. From 1989, he has been Vice-President of the USSR Academy of Sciences and President of its Saint Petersburg Scientific Center. Since 1995 he is a member of the State Duma on the list of the Communist Party of the Russian Federation. In 2000 he received the Nobel Prize in Physics together with Herbert Kroemer, "for developing semiconductor heterostructures used in high-speed- and optoelectronics".
Alferov invented the heterotransistor. This coped with much higher frequencies than its predecessors, and apparently revolutionised the mobile phone and satellite communications. Alferov and Kroemer independently applied this technology to firing laser lights. This, in turn, revolutionised semiconductor design in a host of areas, including LEDs, barcodes readers and CDs.
Hermann Grimmeiss, of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, which awards Nobel prizes, said: "Without Alferov, it would not be possible to transfer all the information from satellites down to the Earth or to have so many telephone lines between cities."