Hellmut Fritzsche

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Hellmut Fritzsche (born 20 February 1927 in Berlin, Germany) is an American physicist.

He came to the USA on a one-year Smith-Mundt fellowship in 1950/51. After receiving his Diplom in physics from the University of Göttingen in 1952 he returned to the USA. He earned his Ph.D. from Purdue University in 1954 where in the same year he became Instructor and in 1955 Assistant Professor. In 1957 he moved to the University of Chicago, where in 1963 he became a full professor and in 1996 retired. During his career at the University of Chicago he was director of its Materials Research laboratory 1973-77 and chairman of its Physics department 1977-86. During his chairmanship he planned and oversaw the building of the Kersten Physics Teaching Center. For twenty five years Fritzsche served on the University of Chicago Advisory Committee for the Encyclopædia Britannica and during the last 7 years as its chairman. Fritzsche has been a vice president and board member of Energy Conversion Devices, Inc. since 1969 and a member of the board of directors of United Solar Systems Corp. from 1993 to 2003.


Fritzsche trained 35 Ph.D. students. Some of the major accomplishments of his group were:

  1. The discovery and exploration of a new conduction process in semiconductors at very low temperatures: impurity conduction, the hopping of charge carriers between the random distribution of impurity atoms [1].
  2. The elucidation of the metal-insulator transition of semiconductors [1].
  3. The use of transmutation doping of some semiconductors: the transmutation of host atoms into doping atoms by the nuclear capture of thermal neutrons.
  4. The first use of Synchrotron Radiation as a light source resulting in a study of far ultraviolet spectra of solids and their electronic structure [2].
  5. The experimental and theoretical exploration of amorphous semiconductors discovered by Stanford R. Ovshinsky and their use in solid state electronic devices and solar panels [3].



280 papers published in scientific journals and 13 books written or edited. Holder of 15 US patents.


  1. “Twentieth Century Physics”, Ed. L. M. Brown, A. Pais and Sir B. Pippard, Vol.III, 1330-1335. Am. Inst. of Physics Press NY (1995).
  2. “The evolution of a dedicated synchrotron light source” Giorgio Margaritando, Physics Today 37-43 May 2008.
  3. “The Science and Technology of an American Genius-Stanford R. Ovshinsky”, H. Fritzsche and B. Schwartz, World Scientific Publ. Co. (NJ, Singapore 2008).

Selected writings by Fritzsche[edit]

  • Editor: Amorphous Silicon and related materials, Parts A, B, World Scientific 1989
  • Editor: Transport, correlation and structural defects, World Scientific 1990
  • Editor with David Adler: Localization and metal-insulator transitions, Plenum Press 1985 (Vol. 3 a Festschrift for Nevill Francis Mott)
  • Electronic phenomena in amorphous semiconductors, Annual Review of Material Science, Vol.2, 1972, pp. 697–744
  • Editor with Brian Schwartz: Stanford R. Ovshinsky - the science and technology of an American genius, World Scientific 2008

External links[edit]