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Docket #:2019-05

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 the IEEE Section(s) in which the plaque(s) will be located 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.

200-250 word abstract describing the significance of the technical achievement being proposed, the person(s) involved, historical context, humanitarian and social impact, as well as any possible controversies the advocate might need to review.

IEEE technical societies and technical councils within whose fields of interest the Milestone proposal resides.

In what IEEE section(s) does it reside?

IEEE Kharagpur Section, (India), Region 10

IEEE Organizational Unit(s) which have agreed to sponsor the Milestone:

IEEE Organizational Unit(s) paying for milestone plaque(s):

Senior Officer Name: IEEE KHARAGPUR SECTION (INDIA) CHAIR Prof. Sudip Misra (2021)

IEEE Organizational Unit(s) arranging the dedication ceremony:

Senior Officer Name: IEEE KHARAGPUR SECTION (INDIA) CHAIR Prof. Sudip Misra (2021)

IEEE section(s) monitoring the plaque(s):

IEEE Section: IEEE Kharagpur Section (INDIA), Region 10
IEEE Section Chair name: Prof. Pabitra Mitra (2015 Chair), and Prof. P. K. Biswas (2008 Chair) and Prof. Debdoot Sheet (2022 Chair) and Prof. Sudip Misra (2021 Chair)

Milestone proposer(s):

Proposer name: Dr. Probir Kumar Bondyopadhyay, 06695225-SM, Philanthropist.
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 in decimal form of the intended milestone plaque site(s):

22.580278 degrees NORTH, 88.373661 degrees EAST 93 A.P.C. Road, Kolkata 700009, West Bengal, INDIA.

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)? If personal names are included in citation, include justification here. (see section 6 of Milestone Guidelines)

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).

In 1901 Professor Jagadis Chunder Bose of Calcutta, India, discovered electromagnetic radiation effect on electrical conductance of sensitive materials, the most prominent of which is lead sulfide (PbS) semiconductor crystal (galena). In this pioneering experimental research, Professor Bose generated ultra-wideband, spatially concentrated electromagnetic waves by striking a small platinum spherical ball with electric sparks, and placing it inside a circular metallic waveguide at a short distance from the detector in a laboratory environment. Lead sulfide (PbS) crystals, one of the sensitive substances used, strongly responded as the incident electromagnetic radiation contained spatially concentrated waves in the short wavelength infrared (SWIR) region (1μm - 3μm) to which, as we precisely know now, the galena crystals respond the best. This discovery immediately led to the invention of semiconductor crystal (PbS) diode detector of ‘invisible light’ in 1901 [1-3].

Professor J. C. Bose’s post-doctoral research work that led to this invention of crystal diode detector was initiated in India in 1898 and perfected at the Royal Institution, Great Britain in 1901. The Bose patent [1] is the defining document for this IEEE Milestone application.

In a lecture delivered at the Royal Institution on May 10, 1901, (Friday Evening Discourse originally initiated by Michael Faraday) Professor Bose disclosed this invention with a practical demonstration of the detector device christened as the ‘electric eye’. He immediately went into patenting the semiconductor diode contact detector and sold the intellectual property [1–3] to the west to raise needed funds for his research [4].

The U.S. Patent of Bose [3] became the first research publication on semiconductor devices imported into the U.S.A. [5,6] and the Bose patents stimulated further research and technological developments in Europe and the U.S. on semiconductor contact diode detectors of wireless waves.

Electron was just discovered by Sir J. J. Thompson in 1897 and atomic and crystal structures of semiconductors like lead sulfide was not yet known in 1901.

One hundred twenty years later, from today’s vantage point, it is clearly seen now [7,8] that the Bose invention of the semiconductor crystal (PbS) contact diode detector represented discovery of the photoelectric effect below the threshold frequency, the first ‘photonic’ infrared detector device [7,8] some four years before Einstein’s famous paper was published in 1905 [9]. The history of semiconductor diode detector of wireless waves along with its multitude of practical applications began with this Bose invention.

In his patent [1] defining the invention, Bose stated: “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.”

Historical significance of Professor Bose’s discovery of semiconductor crystal diode detector of ‘invisible light’ remains captured in the following two statements [7,8]:

(1). ‘Work on the IR photovoltaic effect in naturally occurring lead sulfide, or galena, was first published by Bose in 1904 [11]; however, the IR photo-voltaic effect was not exploited in a radiation detector for several more decades.’ [Antoni Rogalski, 2D Materials for Infrared and Terahertz Detectors, First edition published 2021, 
by CRC Press
 (Taylor & Francis Group, LLC), Chapter 1, Introduction, pages 1-2, ISBN 978 036 747 7417]. [see attached: ROGALSKI_9781003043751_previewpdf.pdf]

(2). Lead sulphide (PbS) was the first practical IR detector with sensitivity to infrared wavelengths up to ~3 μm. " Jagadis Chandra Bose demonstrated the use of galena−metal point contact to detect millimetre electromagnetic waves. In 1901 he filed a U.S patent for a point−contact semiconductor rectifier for detecting radio signals [25]. This type of contact called cat’s whisker detector (sometimes also as crystal detector) played serious role in the initial phase of radio development. How− ever, this contact was not used in a radiation detector for the next several decades. Although crystal rectifiers allowed to fabricate simple radio sets, however, by the mid−1920s the predictable performance of vacuum−tubes replaced them in most radio applications."

[A. ROGALSKI, History of infrared detectors, OPTO−ELECTRONICS REVIEW, 2012, 20(3), 279–308, page 282, DOI: 10.2478/s11772−012−0037−7.] [see attached: ROGALSKI_History-of-infrared-detectors.pdf]

As stated above, apart from being the first practical IR semiconductor diode detector, Professor Bose’s invention of this detector of wireless waves in 1901 directly led to the Crystal Radio receiver sets that made possible listening of radio broadcasts with headphones from near by stations needing no amplifications of radio signals.

This marked significant advances in wireless communications in the first quarter of the twentieth century. This practical impact of Professor Bose’s invention in early radio is popularly known all over the world [10]. [see] One hundred twenty years after Professor Bose’s invention, the electronic device, the lead sulfide semiconductor crystal infrared detector, continues to remain in production for long sustained demands in household, commercial and military applications [11].

During November 1895 through May 1896, Professor Bose devised an experimental method of determining wavelength of electromagnetic radiation from the waveguide transmitter [12]. The paper was published in 1897 upon the recommendation of Lord Rayleigh. However, at what wavelength of the infrared radiation the galena crystal detector responded the best may not have been measured by Bose.

Fifty years later, Gordon E Moore, Commander-in-Chief of the Silicon Revolution, in his doctoral research at California Institute of Technology [13, 14] used lead sulfide (PbS) in Vacuum Grating Spectrometer to study molecular structure and chemical bonds in Nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and other molecules.

What obstacles (technical, political, geographic) needed to be overcome?

Professor J. C. Bose’s experimental research works on semiconductor crystal detectors for wireless waves began in 1898 in India and continued through early part of 1900. He travelled to Europe in the middle of 1900 to present experimental research results on an inter-disciplinary topic, that he also had initiated, at the International science congress being held at the 1900 Paris Exhibition and then to conduct researches at the Davy-Faraday Research Laboratory (DFRL) of the Royal Institution, London. The hospitality was extended by Lord Rayleigh and Sir James Dewar who were then the founding Directors (1896-1919,1923) of the DFRL. During January 1901 through August 1902 Professor Bose was at the DFRL conducting experimental researches perfecting his Semiconductor detector device invention work. He initially went with a six months paid leave of absence which was extended only for an additional six months lasting upto June 1901. Beyond this, it was not extended and he received a furlough for a period of additional two years plunging him into a financial crisis. In late December 1900, Sir William Crookes, 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 10, 1901 in which Professor Bose presented the ‘Artificial Eye’ semiconductor detector device and discussed its construction and operation. It is this device that was immediately patented and the intellectual property [1-3] was transferred to the west. American woman pioneer Mrs. Sara Chapman Bull bought the patents by investing her personal funds and made long term commitments in Professor Bose’s researches. The circumstances surrounding this development are outlined in recent publications [4,15].

A comprehensive description of the circumstances under which Professor Bose conducted his research is available in his authorized biography [16].

What features set this work apart from similar achievements?

Before this question is directly answered, the following must be said first.

Long before Heinrich Hertz experimentally discovered the existence of wireless waves in 1888 and J. J. Thompson experimentally discovered the particle electron in 1897, Karl Ferdinand Braun experimentally discovered in 1874 that voltage current relationship through a metal-semiconductor point contact does not follow the Ohm’s law, the resistance to current flow in one direction being substantially higher than that in the opposite direction [17]. During the time period 1888 through 1901, Karl Ferdinand Braun was busy introducing a coupling transformer to increase the efficiency of spark-gap broadcast wireless transmitter in the KHz - MHz frequency range [17] and did not further experiment with wireless waves to investigate the behavior of the said metal-semiconductor point contacts. This is acknowledged by Braun himself in his 1909 Nobel Lecture and further discussed elsewhere [18,19].

In Newtonian humility, it needs to be said that Professor J. C. Bose made this brilliant invention of the semiconductor crystal diode detector and significantly advanced the frontier of science and technology, by standing on the shoulders of many giants who came before him. Two features of Bose’s work specially stand out.

Professor J. C. Bose, in contrast, worked with the Giga Hertz -Tera Hertz range of the ultra-wideband electromagnetic radiation spectrum he generated by striking a small platinum spherical ball with electric sparks and capturing and confining the radiation by placing this source inside a metallic circular waveguide. This spatially concentrated Tera Hertz range radiation source placed few feet away from the detector device, under test in a laboratory (Royal Institution of Great Britain), resulted in the successful experimental invention [1 - 4].

As pointed out by Rogalski [7,8], lead sulfide (PbS) galena crystal contact diode is a Short Wave Infra-Red (SWIR) photonic diode responding best in the (0.1 - 0.3) micrometer wave-length range (corresponding to 300 Tera Hertz to 100 Tera Hertz frequency range). Bose did not know this apriori.

Between Hertz (1888) and Bose (1901), successful use of a transformer, with the spark-gap wireless broadcast transmitter (in the KHz-MHz range) for greater broadcast distance, earned Karl Ferdinand Braun half of the 1909 Physics Nobel Prize but success with the metal-semiconductor contact device for a crystal diode detector eluded him [17,18].

Whereas successful use of a confining circular metallic waveguide with the spark-gap wireless transmitter (in the GHz-THz range) brought Professor J. C. Bose the glory of the patented invention of the crystal contact diode detector, the commercially useful new technology that was exported to the West [1-3]. His exported U.S. Patent 755,840 became America’s first research publication [3, 5] on semiconductor devices.

Also by chemically treating the contact materials used in the search for new detector devices, Professor Bose expanded the frequency response of the various detector devices examined [1,3].

Therefore, as the IEEE History Center correctly noted, Karl Ferdinand Braun (1906) fell five years behind J. C. Bose (1901) in the useful discovery of the crystal diode detector. Similarly, Dunwoody (1906) and G.W. Picard (1906) in the U.S.A., both of whom worked with crystal detectors of wireless waves were also five years behind Bose (1901).

This crowning achievement of Bose stands above and beyond his foundational works, with millimeter range electromagnetic waves during 1894-1896, which was examined and praised by Sir J. J. Thompson and Professor J. H. Poynting as Bose’s D.Sc work in experimental physics [20].

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 British patent document defining this Milestone application is : (i). The British Patent No. 18,430 (available at the following address)


1. Bose, J. C. and Bull, S. C., Improved Means or Apparatus for Detecting or Indicating Light Waves, Hertzian Waves and other Radiations, British Patent No. 18,430, application filed September 14, 1901, patented August 7, 1902. [available at the following address]

2. Bose, J. C. and Bull, S. C. Improvements in and connected with Wireless Telegraphy and other Signalling., The British Patent No. 15,467 application filed July 30, 1901, patented July 30, 1902. [available at the following address]

3. Bose, J.C. and Bull, S.C., Detector for electrical disturbances., United States Patent 755,840, application filed September 30, 1901, patented March 29, 1904.

[available at]

4. 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. [1]

5. The Supporting Citation in the COMPUTER HISTORY MUSEUM, California. see [2].

6. G. L. Pearson and W. H. Brattain, ”HISTORY OF SEMICONDUCTOR RESEARCH”, Proc. IRE, December 1955, pp. 1794-1806. [IRE_PEARSON_BRATTAIN_PAPER_1955.pdf]

7. Antoni Rogalski, 2D Materials for Infrared and Terahertz Detectors, First edition published 2021, 
by CRC Press
 (Taylor & Francis Group, LLC), Chapter 1, Introduction, pages 1-2, ISBN 978 036 747 7417. [see attached: ROGALSKI_9781003043751_previewpdf.pdf]

8. Antoni Rogalski, A HISTORY OF INFRARED DETECTORS, Opto-Electron. Rev. 20, 279-308 (2012) available at [2] also at

9. Einstein, A. Über einen die Erzeugung und Verwandlung des Lichtes betreffenden heuristischen Gesichttspunkt (“On a Heuristic Viewpoint Concerning the Production and Transformation of Light”), March 18, 1905.

10. For practical impact of Professor Bose’s invention in early radio is popularly known all over the world. [see,]

11. Description of PbS detectors with applications, is currently available from one of the vendors in the U.S.A. see [3]

12. 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.

13. Moore, Gordon E., Ph.D. Thesis, Infra-red studies of Nitrous acid, chloramines and Nitrogen Dioxide, etc., page 38, California Institute of Technology, 1954. [MOORE_GORDON_E_PHD_1954_THESIS.pdf]

14. Thackray, Arnold, Brock, David C. and Jones, Rachel, ‘MOORE’S LAW, The Life of Gordon Moore, Silicon Valley’s Quiet Revolutionary,’ BASIC BOOKS, New York, 2015, pp. 110-111.

15. Bondyopadhyay, P. K. and Ms. Lily Banerjee, THE VIOLIN AND THE GENESIS OF THE BOSE INSTITUTE IN CALCUTTA, INDIA by Indian Journal of History of Science, vol.47.3 (2012), 427-472. see [4]. [BOSE_INSA_PAPER_VIOLIN_Vol_47_3_4_PKBandyopadhyay.pdf].

16. 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]

17. Russer, Peter, "Ferdinand Braun — A pioneer in wireless technology and electronics." Proc. European Microwave Conference, Rome, Italy, EuMC 2009, pages 547–554, September 30-October 2009. [Conference Paper · November 2009 Source: IEEE Xplore,]

18. Bondyopadhyay, P. K., Under the glare of a thousand suns-the pioneering works of Sir J.C. Bose, Proceedings of the IEEE, vol. 86, Issue 1, pp. 218 – 224, January 1998.

19. Bondyopadhyay, P. 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. [BONDYOPADHYAY_AND_BANERJEE_TECH_TRANSFER_2009.pdf]

20. Bose, J. C., D.Sc Thesis in Experimental Physics, University of London, Great Britain, June 11, 1896.(Sir J. J. Thomson and Professor J. H. Poynting, Examiners), June 11, 1896. [DSc_Thesis_J_C_BOSE_1896_UNIV_LONDON.pdf]

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 Please see the Milestone Program Guidelines for more information.


Please email a jpeg or PDF a letter in English, or with English translation, from the site owner(s) giving permission to place IEEE milestone plaque on the property, and a letter (or forwarded email) from the appropriate Section Chair supporting the Milestone application to with the subject line "Attention: Milestone Administrator." Note that there are multiple texts of the letter depending on whether an IEEE organizational unit other than the section will be paying for the plaque(s).

Please recommend reviewers by emailing their names and email addresses to Please include the docket number and brief title of your proposal in the subject line of all emails.