Milestone-Proposal:INVENTION OF SEMICONDUCTOR CRYSTAL DIODE DETECTOR, 1901
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This proposal has been submitted for review.
To the proposer’s knowledge, is this achievement subject to litigation? No
Is the achievement you are proposing more than 25 years old? Yes
Is the achievement you are proposing within IEEE’s designated fields as defined by IEEE Bylaw I-104.11, namely: Engineering, Computer Sciences and Information Technology, Physical Sciences, Biological and Medical Sciences, Mathematics, Technical Communications, Education, Management, and Law and Policy. Yes
Did the achievement provide a meaningful benefit for humanity? Yes
Was it of at least regional importance? Yes
Has an IEEE Organizational Unit agreed to pay for the milestone plaque(s)? Yes
Has an IEEE Organizational Unit agreed to arrange the dedication ceremony? Yes
Has the IEEE Section in which the milestone is located agreed to take responsibility for the plaque after it is dedicated? Yes
Has the owner of the site agreed to have it designated as an IEEE Milestone? Yes
Year or range of years in which the achievement occurred:
Title of the proposed milestone:
Semiconductor Crystal Diode Detector, 1901
Plaque citation summarizing the achievement and its significance:
Sir Jagadis Chunder Bose in 1901 invented Semiconductor Crystal Diode Detector that converted electromagnetic signal energy into electronic signal energy, inaugurating revolutionary new era in wireless communications in the twentieth century and beyond. This Invention is described in his British Patents 15,467 and 18,430, both of 1901 and the United States Patent 755,840, issued March 29, 1904.
In what IEEE section(s) does it reside?
CARE OF IIT KHARAGPUR, INDIA, SECTION OF THE IEEE
IEEE Organizational Unit(s) which have agreed to sponsor the Milestone:
IEEE Organizational Unit(s) paying for milestone plaque(s):
Unit: Sir J. C. Bose Memorial Fund (USA) and IEEE Kharagpur Section (India)
Senior Officer Name: Senior officer name masked to public
Unit: Sir J. C. Bose Memorial Fund at Sir J. C. Bose Trust, Kolkata, West Bengal, India
Senior Officer Name: Senior officer name masked to public
IEEE Organizational Unit(s) arranging the dedication ceremony:
Unit: Kharagpur Section (INDIA)
Senior Officer Name: Senior officer name masked to public
IEEE section(s) monitoring the plaque(s):
IEEE Section: Kharagpur Section (INDIA)
IEEE Section Chair name: Section chair name masked to public
Proposer name: Proposer's name masked to public
Proposer email: Proposer's email masked to public
Please note: your email address and contact information will be masked on the website for privacy reasons. Only IEEE History Center Staff will be able to view the email address.
Street address(es) and GPS coordinates of the intended milestone plaque site(s):
22.580278 degrees NORTH, 88.373661 degrees EAST
Describe briefly the intended site(s) of the milestone plaque(s). The intended site(s) must have a direct connection with the achievement (e.g. where developed, invented, tested, demonstrated, installed, or operated, etc.). A museum where a device or example of the technology is displayed, or the university where the inventor studied, are not, in themselves, sufficient connection for a milestone plaque.
Please give the address(es) of the plaque site(s) (GPS coordinates if you have them). Also please give the details of the mounting, i.e. on the outside of the building, in the ground floor entrance hall, on a plinth on the grounds, etc. If visitors to the plaque site will need to go through security, or make an appointment, please give the contact information visitors will need. The intended site of the milestone plaque is the home of Professor J. C. Bose from where he regularly conducted much of his epoch-making experiments. This is because of inadequate laboratory space at his teaching institution and lack of adequate infrastructure support from the local British colonial educational authorities in those days. This is well documented in his many letters to American Woman Pioneer Mrs. Sara Chapman Bull.
Are the original buildings extant?
Details of the plaque mounting:
The Plaque will be prominently displayed in the ground floor of the Sir J. C. Bose House which is a heritage building and now being converted into a national science heritage museum. It will be conspicuously along the path of regular visitors inside the house.
How is the site protected/secured, and in what ways is it accessible to the public?
Secured Heritage Site. Open to public in designated hours of the week and by appointment.
Who is the present owner of the site(s)?
Sir J. C. Bose Trust, 93 A.P.C. Road, Kolkata 700009, West Bengal, INDIA
What is the historical significance of the work (its technological, scientific, or social importance)?
This invention (British Patents 18,430 and 15, 467 both invented in 1901) is the first of three most important semiconductor devices that defined and revolutionized the twentieth century and beyond in the areas of communications, computers, entertainment electronics and so on. The other two semiconductor device inventions are (ii) transistors (1947-1948) and (iii) integrated circuits (1958-1959).
Reliability and sensitivity are two very important features of semiconductor Devices. Sir J. C. Bose is the world’s first in inventing and patenting the semiconductor crystal detector of wireless waves. Sir Bose’s United States patent (No. 755,840) imported by American Woman Pioneer Mrs. Sara Chapman Bull is U.S.A.’s first research publication on semiconductor devices. Sir J. J. Thomson and Professor J. H. Poynting, together have examined Professor J. C. Bose’s experimental research with wireless waves conducted during 1894-1896 and provided the Examiners’ Report to the Senate of the University of London, Great Britain on June 11, 1896 for the award of an earned D.Sc. degree in Experimental Physics. This Examiners’ Report together with this D.Sc. Thesis describing what Professor Bose did and did not do during the time period 1894-1896, are the defining original historical documents for this new IEEE Milestone Application 2019-05. This Examiners’ Report together with this D.Sc. Thesis that was examined, are given here to prove that Semiconductor Crystal contact detector of wireless waves was not used by Professor J. C. Bose during 1894-1896. This is because the said detector device was not yet invented by him during the said time period.
Once again, Professor J. C. Bose’s two inventions [Bose Detector (1899) and Galena (lead sulfide) Semiconductor Crystal contact Detector (1901)] were not used in the wireless communication experiments during the time period 1894-1896. Professor Bose’s these two inventions rendered the mechanically tapped Lodge Coherer (based on Branly radio conduction discovery) obsolete in 1900. This is duly noted in the last sentence of the Edouard Branly radio conduction discovery Milestone announcement (IEEE Milestone No. 102).
The iron-mercury-iron self-restoring coherer (1899) with a telephone is the Bose Detector (name coined by Karl Ludvig Groenhaug of Norway).
The irrelevant name ‘self-restoring coherer’ was not used by Professor Bose to
Describe his galena (lead sulfide) crystal detector of electromagnetic waves.
Professor J. C. Bose’s two inventions [(Bose Detector (1899) and semiconductor Crystal Diode Detector (1901) rendered the mechanically tapped Lodge Coherer (based on Branly radio conductor discovery) obsolete in 1901. The iron-mercury-iron self-restoring coherer (1899) with a telephone is the Bose Detector (name coined by Karl Ludvig Groenhaug of Norway in 2001). The laser-sharp focus of Professor J. C. Bose’s experimental researches with wireless waves was to invent sensitive self-restoring detectors. Professor Bose experimented with a large number of metal contacts and naturally occurring crystals. The research was not focused on a particular frequency or frequency band. Professor Bose’s transmitting source was a very wide-band electromagnetic beam as created by a spark excited small platinum ball inside a circular waveguide. Pearson and Brattain (Proc. IRE, December 1955) has stated that Professor Bose was the earliest pioneer on semiconductor detector device of wireless waves.
[see G. L. Pearson and W. H. Brattain, ”HISTORY OF SEMICONDUCTOR RESEARCH”, Proc. IRE, December 1955, pp. 1794-1806.]
[IRE_PEARSON_BRATTAIN_PAPER_1955.pdf ] See also: Bondyopadhyay, Probir K. and Ms. Lily Banerjee, ”INDIA’S FIRST SOLID STATE DEVICE TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER TO THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA”, PHYSICS NEWS, Indian Physics Association, Special Issue Commemorating 150th Birth Anniversary of Sir J. C. Bose, 2009.
During November 1895 through May 1896, Professor Bose devised an experimental method of determining wavelength (dominant waveguide mode at the lowest end of the broad spectrum) of the transmitter. The paper was published in 1897 upon the recommendation of Lord Rayleigh. [J. C. Bose, “ON THE DETERMINATION OF THE WAVE LENGTH OF ELECTRIC RADIATION BY DIFFRACTION GRATING”, Proceedings of the Royal Society, London, Series A, vol. LX, pp. 167-178, 1897.] This paper has been attached with his D.Sc. Thesis, although it arrived in London after Professor Bose was already approved for D.Sc. degree based on his work done up to November 30, 1895] ______________
What obstacles (technical, political, geographic) needed to be overcome?
It was the idea of Miss Margaret Elizabeth Noble (widely known as Sister Nivedita in India) of Wimbledon, Great Britain to introduce Professor J. C. Bose’s invention of semiconductor crystal contact detector of wireless waves, a timeless invention, to the West with these three epoch-making patents. Miss Noble was financially supported by American Woman Pioneer Mrs. Sara Chapman Bull of Cambridge, Massachusetts who paid from her personal funds to get Professor Jagadis Chunder Bose’s pioneering inventions patented and recorded in the West (Great Britain and the U.S.A). These two angels were inspired by Indian Philosopher Mr. Narendranath Datta (widely known all over the world as Swami Vivekananda). Nobel Laureate (1913) poet Rabindranath Tagore composed a lyric poem in early 1903 commemorating this and other triumphs of Professor Bose.
Professor J. C. Bose’s Semiconductor Crystal Detector for wireless waves research work began in 1898 in India and continued through 1899. During January 1901 through August 1902 Professor Bose was at the Davy-Faraday Laboratory of the Royal Institution conducting experimental researches perfecting his Semiconductor detector device invention work. The hospitality was extended by Lord Rayleigh and Sir James Dewar who were the Directors (1896-1923) of the Davy-Faraday Laboratory, at the Royal Institution. In late December 1900, Sir William Crooke, then secretary of the Royal Institution invited Professor Bose to deliver a lecture at the Royal Institution (famous Friday Evening Discourse, first introduced by Michael Faraday in 1825). The lecture took place on May 8, 1901 in which Professor Bose presented the ‘Artificial Eye’ semiconductor detector device and discussed its construction and operation. Miss Margaret Elizabeth Noble was in attendance. It is this Device that was patented following that presentation.
It is precisely at this time that American woman pioneer Mrs. Sara Chapman Bull provided funds for the Bose patents and new semiconductor device technology transfer to the United States and Great Britain took place. Mrs. Sara Chapman Bull drew up a hand-written Will on January 2, 1902, promising US $20,000 to establish an experimental research Laboratory for Professor Bose in Calcutta, India. Later on, Mrs. Sara Chapman Bull provided substantial funds to establish (1917) his research laboratory, the Bose Institute of Calcutta India. The obstacles of various kinds that needed to be overcome have been summarized recently. [see THE VIOLIN AND THE GENESIS OF THE BOSE INSTITUTE IN CALCUTTA, INDIA by Probir K. Bondyopadhyay and Ms. Lily Banerjee, Indian Journal of History of Science, vol.47.3 (2012), 427-472.  [BOSE_INSA_PAPER_VIOLIN_Vol_47_3_4_PKBandyopadhyay.pdf]
[See also, Patrick Geddes: THE LIFE AND WORKS OF SIR JAGADIS C. BOSE, Longmans, Green, and Co. London, 1920, Chapter 5, pages 67-68], [GEDDES_PATRICK_LIFE_AND_WORK_OF_J_C_BOSE_1920.pdf]
What features set this work apart from similar achievements?
Professor Jagadis Chunder Bose was world’s first to discover and announce to the world through his patents that Galena (lead sulfide) crystal is a semiconductor that responds to electromagnetic waves in the infrared region. He invented the infrared photo-detector which is now known as infra-red photon detector. [see Antoni Rogalski, A HISTORY OF INFRARED DETECTORS, Opto-Electron. Rev. 20, 279-308 (2012) available at  also at https://www.degruyter.com/downloadpdf/j/oere.2012.20.issue-3/s11772-012-0037-7/s11772-012-0037-7.pdf
Professor J. C. Bose was generating electromagnetic waves by striking a small platinum ball with an electric spark inside a metallic circular waveguide. Circular waveguide is a high pass filter and the transmitter generated and transmitted electromagnetic waves, through the waveguide, from the millimeter wave region through the entire infrared and optical region up to ultraviolet. Professor Bose’s inventive genius, in this case, originated from his brilliant and ingenious construction of the electromagnetic signal source by placing the electrical spark excited small spherical platinum ball inside a metallic circular waveguide. The circular waveguide simultaneously acts as a frequency filter (high pass filter) as well as a spatial filter by confining the electromagnetic radiation inside a narrow cylindrical space. Thus Professor Bose created a broadband electromagnetic beam with which he investigated the response properties of the lead sulfide crystal and then used his discovery in the receive mode for his invention. With the following statement in the beginning of page 6 of the British Patent 18,430, Professor Bose’s invention opened up new
opportunities for exploitation of the far-infrared and middle-infrared regions of the electromagnetic spectrum.
”the instrument will detect and record lights not only all kinds of visible lights, but also others in regions far below the infra-red, in the invisible regions of electric radiation.” The genius of Professor Bose is manifested in the historical facts that Bose, after discovering that lead sulfide (PbS as Galena crystals) is a infra-red (‘invisible light’ in Bose’s own words) semiconductor, immediately created a detection device with practical applications. The PbS semiconductor is now known and functions as Infra-red (IR) photon detector responding to short-wavelength IR (1.0 micrometer – to approx. 3.0 micrometer wavelength range corresponding to about 100 Tera Hertz to 300 Tera Hertz frequency range). This J. C. Bose invention happened at least four years before Albert Einstein published his important paper on photons in 1905 explaining
photoelectric effect. Einstein on March 18th, 1905 submitted the paper Über einen die Erzeugung und Verwandlung des Lichtes betreffenden heuristischen Gesichttspunkt (“On a Heuristic Viewpoint Concerning the Production and Transformation of Light”)
Fifty years later, Gordon E. Moore, Commander-in-Chief of the Silicon Revolution, in his doctoral research at California Institute of Technology used lead sulfide (PbS) in Vacuum Grating Spectrometer to study molecular structure and chemical bonds in Nitrogen dioxide (NO2)
[See, Gordon E. Moore, Ph.D. Thesis, Infra-red studies of Nitrous acid, chloramines and Nitrogen Dioxide, etc., page 38, California Institute of Technology, 1954]. The PDF file is attached herewith.
See also, Arnold Thackray, David C. Brock and Rachel Jones, ‘MOORE’S LAW, The Life of Gordon Moore, Silicon Valley’s Quiet Revolutionary,’ BASIC BOOKS, New York, 2015, pp. 110-111.
Supporting texts and citations to establish the dates, location, and importance of the achievement: Minimum of five (5), but as many as needed to support the milestone, such as patents, contemporary newspaper articles, journal articles, or chapters in scholarly books. 'Scholarly' is defined as peer-reviewed, with references, and published. You must supply the texts or excerpts themselves, not just the references. At least one of the references must be from a scholarly book or journal article. All supporting materials must be in English, or accompanied by an English translation.
The following two British patents are the defining documents: (i). The British Patent No. 18,430 (available at the following address) http://worldwide.espacenet.com/publicationDetails/biblio?CC=GB&NR=190118430&KC=&FT=E&locale=en_EP
(ii). The British Patent No. 15,467 (available at the following address) http://worldwide.espacenet.com/publicationDetails/biblio?CC=GB&NR=190115467&KC=&FT=E&locale=en_EP
(iii). The following published paper of 2008 places the two said British patents in correct and accurate historical perspective: TWO RECENTLY DISCOVERED PATENTS OF PROFESSOR JAGADIS CHUNDER BOSE AND INDIA’S FIRST ELECTRONICS TECHNOLOGY TRANSFER TO THE WEST by Probir K. Bondyopadhyay and Suchanda Banerjee, Indian Journal of History of Science,vol. 43.1 (2008), 57-72 https://www.insa.nic.in/writereaddata/UpLoadedFiles/IJHS/Vol43_1_4_PKBondyopadhyay.pdf
The following American Patent establishes the importance of the achievement:
(iv). The United States Patent No. 755,840 (available at the following address) http://www.google.com/patents/US755840
The following recent book excerpt on the origin of infrared detectors further establishes the importance of Sir J. C. Bose’s achievement: (v). Antonio Rogalski, INFRARED DETECTORS, Second Edition, CRC Press, Taylor & Francis Group, Boca Raton, Florida, 2011, ISBN 978-1-4200-7671-4.
“Work on the IR Photovoltaic effect in naturally occurring lead sulfide or galena was announced by Bose in 1904. However this effect was not used in a radiation detector for the next several decades.” in Chapter 2, Infrared Detector Characterization, pp. 23-44, page 23.
1901: Semiconductor Rectifiers Patented as “Cat’s Whisker” Detectors
Supporting materials (supported formats: GIF, JPEG, PNG, PDF, DOC): All supporting materials must be in English, or if not in English, accompanied by an English translation. You must supply the texts or excerpts themselves, not just the references. For documents that are copyright-encumbered, or which you do not have rights to post, email the documents themselves to email@example.com. Please see the Milestone Program Guidelines for more information.
1901: Semiconductor Rectifiers Patented as “Cat’s Whisker” Detectors
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