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

Year Life event
1967 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 Awared 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
2014 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

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University of Surrey
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