Jan Czochralski was a Polish chemist who invented the Czochralski process, which is used for growing single crystals and in the production of semiconductor wafers. It is still used in over 90 percent of all electronics in the world that use semiconductors. He is the most cited Polish scholar.
The flourishing of semiconductor electronics would be impossible without Czochralski’s work. There would be no computers, tablets, cell phones, modern televisions, digital cameras, camcorders … etc
He discovered the Czochralski method in 1916, when he accidentally dipped his pen into a crucible of molten tin rather than his inkwell. He immediately pulled his pen out to discover that a thin thread of solidified metal was hanging from the nib. The nib was replaced by a capillary, and Czochralski verified that the crystallized metal was a single crystal. Czochralski’s experiments produced single crystals a millimeter in diameter and up to 150 centimeters long. He published a paper on his discovery in 1918 in the Zeitschrift für Physikalische Chemie, a German chemistry journal, under the title “Ein neues Verfahren zur Messung der Kristallisationsgeschwindigkeit der Metalle” [A new method for the measurement of the crystallization rate of metals], since the method was at that time used for measuring the crystallization rate of metals such as tin, zinc and lead. In 1948, Americans Gordon K. Teal and J.B. Little from Bell Labs would use the method to grow single germanium crystals, leading to its use in semiconductor production.
He was a figure highly respected by the Germans and by the German Chancellor, Hindenburg himself. Photographs of both men have survived to this day. The Germans respected his achievements to such an extent and remembered the merits of the Pole that even during World War II they did not raise their hands on him – as was the case with Prof. Rudolf Weigl.
He also developed modern ball bearings without the addition of tin – which allowed for the development of high-speed railways before the Second World War – the idea was patented.
After World War II, it was cut out of history and buried in an unmarked grave.
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