From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
|Born||10 May 1903|
Tver, Russian Empire
|Died||22 January 1942 (aged 38)|
Leningrad, Russian SFSR
|Residence||Nizhny Novgorod, Leningrad|
|Citizenship||Russia, Soviet Union|
|Fields||Physics, electrical engineering|
|Institutions||Nizhniy-Novgorod Radio Laboratory (NRL), Central Radio Laboratory (TSRL, Leningrad), Leningrad Physicotechnical Institute, First Leningrad Medical Institute|
|Known for||Inventions, radio, LEDs|
Oleg Vladimirovich Losev (Russian: Оле́г Влади́мирович Ло́сев, sometimes spelled Lossev or Lossew in English) (10 May 1903 – 22 January 1942) was a Russian scientist and inventor, who made significant discoveries in the field of semiconductor junctions.
Although he was never able to complete a formal education and never held a research position, Losev conducted some of the earliest research into semiconductors, publishing 43 papers and receiving 16 "author's certificates" (the Soviet version of patents) for his discoveries. He observed light emission from carborundum point-contact junctions, the first light-emitting diode (LED), did the first research on them, proposed the first correct theory of how they worked, and used them in practical applications such as electroluminescence. He explored negative resistance in semiconductor junctions, and was first to use them practically for amplification, building the first solid-state amplifiers, electronic oscillators, and superheterodyne radio receivers, 25 years before the invention of the transistor. However his achievements were overlooked, and languished unknown for half a century before being recognized in the late 20th and early 21st century.
Career and personal life
Losev was born into a noble family in Tver, Russia. His father was a retired captain in the Tsarist Imperial Army, who worked in the office of Tverskoy Vagonostroitelniy Zavod (Tversky Wagon Works), a local rolling stock factory. Losev graduated from secondary school in 1920.
At this time in Russian history, three years after the Bolshevik Revolution, during the upheaval of the Russian Civil War, an upper-class family background was a bar to higher education and career advancement. Losev went to work as a technician at the recently established Nizhny Novgorod Radio Laboratory(NNRL), the new Soviet government's first radio science laboratory, located in Nizhny Novgorod, where he worked under Vladimir Lebedinsky. Although he managed to attend a few classes, he remained throughout his life a self-taught scientist who never got to complete a college education, never had the support of a collaborator or research team, and never held a position higher than technician. Nevertheless, he managed to conduct original research. His interests focused on the point-contact crystal detector (cat's whisker detector), which was used as a demodulator in the first early radio receivers, crystal radios, before powered vacuum tube radios were developed in World War 1. These crude semiconductor diodes were the first semiconductor electronic devices, and although they were widely used, almost nothing was known about how they worked. Losev became one of the world's first semiconductor physicists.
When Nizhny Novgorod was shut down in 1928, he transferred along with many of the research staff to the Central Radio Laboratory (CRL) in Leningrad (St. Petersburg). At the invitation of director Abram Ioffe, from 1929 to 1933 he conducted research at the Ioffe Physical-Technical Institute. He was eventually awarded a PhD from the Institute in 1938 without completing a formal thesis, but it came too late to benefit his career. After much hardship, in 1937 Losev was forced to take a position as a technician at the physics department of the Leningrad First Medical Institute (now the First Pavlov State Medical University of St. Peterburg) which did not support his research interests, where he continued until 1942. Losev died of starvation in 1942, at the age of 38, along with many other civilians, during the Siege of Leningrad by the Germans during World War 2. It is not known where he was buried.