Kurt Lehovec

Kurt Lehovec

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Kurt Lehovec is one of the pioneers of the integrated circuit
Integrated circuit
An integrated circuit or monolithic integrated circuit is an electronic circuit manufactured by the patterned diffusion of trace elements into the surface of a thin substrate of semiconductor material...

, 1959. He innovated the concept of p-n junction isolation
P-n junction isolation
p-n junction isolation is a method used to electrically isolate electronic components, such as transistors, on an integrated circuit by surrounding the components with reverse biased p-n junctions.-Introduction:...

 used in every circuit element with a guard ring: a reverse-biased p-n junction surrounding the planar periphery of that element. This patent was assigned to Sprague Electric.

Because Lehovec was under salary with Sprague, he was paid only one dollar for this invention.

Lehovec was born June 12, 1918 in Ledvice, in northern Bohemia
Bohemia is a historical region in central Europe, occupying the western two-thirds of the traditional Czech Lands. It is located in the contemporary Czech Republic with its capital in Prague...

, of the Czech Republic
Czech Republic
The Czech Republic is a landlocked country in Central Europe. The country is bordered by Poland to the northeast, Slovakia to the east, Austria to the south, and Germany to the west and northwest....

. He was educated there and went to the US in 1947 under the auspices of Operation Paperclip
Operation Paperclip
Operation Paperclip was the Office of Strategic Services program used to recruit the scientists of Nazi Germany for employment by the United States in the aftermath of World War II...

which allowed scientists and engineers to emigrate.
With Accardo and Jamgochian, he explained the first light-emitting diode
Light-emitting diode
A light-emitting diode is a semiconductor light source. LEDs are used as indicator lamps in many devices and are increasingly used for other lighting...


The important case of fast ionic conduction in solid states is one in a surface space-charge layer of ionic crystals. Such conduction was first predicted by K.Lehovec in the paper “Space-charge layer and distribution of lattice defects at the surface of ionic crystals” ( J. Chem. Phys. 1953. V.21. P.1123 -1128). As a space-charge layer has nanometer thickness, the effect is directly related to nanoionics
Nanoionics is the study and application of phenomena, properties, effects and mechanisms of processes connected with fast ion transport in all-solid-state nanoscale systems. The topics of interest include fundamental properties of oxide ceramics at nanometer length scales, and fast ion conductor...

 (nanoionics-I). The Lehovec’s effect had given a basis for a creation of multitude nanostructured fast ion conductor
Fast ion conductor
In solid-state ionics, fast ion conductors, also known as solid electrolytes and superionic conductors, are materials that act as solid state ion conductors and are used primarily in solid oxide fuel cells. As solid electrolytes they conduct due to the movement of ions through voids, or empty...

s which used in modern portable lithium batteries and fuel cells.

Lehovec is a Professor Emeritus at the University of Southern California
University of Southern California
The University of Southern California is a private, not-for-profit, nonsectarian, research university located in Los Angeles, California, United States. USC was founded in 1880, making it California's oldest private research university...

 in Los Angeles, California
Los Angeles, California
Los Angeles , with a population at the 2010 United States Census of 3,792,621, is the most populous city in California, USA and the second most populous in the United States, after New York City. It has an area of , and is located in Southern California...

 and currently lives in Southern California
Southern California
Southern California is a megaregion, or megapolitan area, in the southern area of the U.S. state of California. Large urban areas include Greater Los Angeles and Greater San Diego. The urban area stretches along the coast from Ventura through the Southland and Inland Empire to San Diego...

After retirement from USC Lehovec has taken to writing poetry.