Professor Alf Adams

Professor Alf Adams FRS is a well-known British physicist who invented the strained-layer quantum-well laser, considered to be one of the top ten greatest UK scientific breakthroughs of all time.

It powers the internet, CDs, DVDs, supermarket checkouts and billions of other devices.

Life timeline

  • 1967

    Professor Alf Adams joins the University of Surrey.

  • 1980

    Takes a sabbatical to work on semiconductor lasers at the Toyko Institute of Technology in Japan.

  • 1986

    Along with his team, he proposed that the electronic band structure of quantum-well lasers could be significantly improved by deliberately growing the active layer in a state of strain.

  • 1995

    Awarded the Duddell Medal and Prize.

  • 1996

    Elected Fellow of the Royal Society.

  • 2012

    He gives the inaugural lecture at the Royal Society, for the Alf Adams lecture series, established to showcase the University of Surrey's ground-breaking research.

  • 2014

    Awarded the Rank Prize for Optoelectronics for his work on strained-layer quantum well lasers.

    In March, he was subject of the BBC Radio 4 programme, Professor Jim Al-Khalili's The Life Scientific.

  • 2015

    Since retirement from the University of Surrey, he holds the position of emeritus professor.

Sir Martin Sweeting

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