My half-century long relations with physica status solidi
Article first published online: 5 APR 2011
Copyright © 2011 WILEY-VCH Verlag GmbH & Co. KGaA, Weinheim
physica status solidi (b)
Volume 248, Issue 12, pages 2759–2761, December 2011
How to Cite
Cardona, M. (2011), My half-century long relations with physica status solidi. Phys. Status Solidi B, 248: 2759–2761. doi: 10.1002/pssb.201140118
- Issue published online: 25 NOV 2011
- Article first published online: 5 APR 2011
During my long scientific career I have been involved in many scientific journals, both as author and editor. But in no case has been my relation as long as with physica status solidi, going back to the very beginnings of the journal in 1961. Shortly after receiving my PhD at Harvard (1959) I took a job as a member of the technical staff at the RCA Laboratories in Switzerland. The Berlin Wall did not exist yet and movement of scientists between East and West (in particular Germany) was easy. From my post in Switzerland I began to regularly attend the meetings of the DPG (German Physical Society), this providing a wonderful opportunity to establish contact with scientists on both sides of the divided Europe. At one of these meetings, sometime in 1960, I met Karl Wolfgang Böer. We were among the youngest participants and considerable empathy developed between us. He told me about the developing plans of creating a journal, based in East Berlin and dedicated to solid state physics, purporting to bridge the scientific gap between the communist and the capitalist world. Böer asked me whether I would be interested in collaborating in this enterprise in some way, as a member of an advisory board or the like. He was interested in having a collaborator in Switzerland. As a rather junior physicist I was flattered and agreed, but alas, on August 13, 1961 a wall started to separate East and West. I decided to return to the main RCA Labs, located in Princeton, NJ in the United States. I was then told that under these conditions, the offer to participate in the Editorial Board of physica status solidi (whose first volume had appeared on July 1, 1961) no longer stood. American representation was to be left in the hands of two Germans temporarily residing in the US: K. W. Böer (New York) and Ekkehard Kröner (Cambridge, MA). Professor P. Görlich became the editor-in-chief. In my case, the RCA management was not very keen on having me getting involved in a venture based on the other side of the Wall. So I put my relations with the journal on hold.
K. W. Böer disappeared from the Board of Editors in the 2nd volume of the journal (1962), no doubt a result of the mounting political tensions. Professor Kröner returned to Germany (he actually had authored the first article to appear in the journal) and pss was left without representatives of the USA till Vol. 19 (January 1967) when Professor Frederick Seitz agreed to join the Editorial Board, a position he held till shortly before his death in March 2008, thus becoming together with Alfred Seeger (who started with Vol. 1 and still is in the board) the longest serving member. John Hopfield, a young brilliant faculty member at Princeton, joined the international Advisory Board, thus making the journal truly international, beyond political tensions. Those who knew Seitz's political leanings to the right are still somewhat surprised to see his long participation in a venture involving a communist regime. He probably felt that it was important to contribute to restore the unity of science in spite of the rather impenetrable wall: the ways of the Lord are inscrutable. His membership in the Board of Editors continued even after the split of the Journal into basic (b) and applied (a) parts.
Shortly before the invasion of Czechoslovakia, one of the most prominent members of the Editorial Board, Jan Tauc, had taken a sabbatical leave at Bell Labs in the USA. He was put under considerable pressure to return home immediately, including threats of prosecution for defection. After a great deal of soul searching in which I participated as a family friend, he decided to stay in the USA and accepted a position in the faculty at Brown University, taking some of the duties left vacant when I accepted a job in Germany as one of the founding directors of the Max Planck Institute of Solid State Research in Stuttgart. Tauc was sentenced in absentia in Prague to 5 years in jail (some sources say 9 years). I returned to Europe in 1971 and soon (Vol. 51, May 1, 1972) my name appeared in the Board of Editors of physica status solidi (b), a position I still proudly hold. Jan Tauc continued to be listed as working at the Czech Academy in Prague, in spite of being expatriated to the USA, during 1972 and 1973. At this point I should mention that the most highly cited article of physica status solidi, under the title “Optical properties and electronic structure of amorphous germanium,” bears the name of Tauc as a first author, followed by his Romanian colleagues Grigorovici and Vancu 1. This paper originated the eponym “Tauc's Gap” cited profusely ever since (4000 citations in Google, more than 1400 in the Web of Science).
The relaxation of international tensions signaled by the Treaty of Moscow (1970–1972) gave considerable impulse to the internationalization (globalization we would say today) of the journal. Tauc's affiliation was changed to Brown University in 1973. The journal was split into series (a) and (b) (dealing with applied and basic physics, respectively) in 1970 and in the Editorial and Advisory Boards of pss (a) a number of American colleagues appeared, among them the original founder of pss, K. W. Böer (as of Vol. 9, 1972). Böer was listed as residing in Newark. The copy editor obviously did not realize that there are at least four Newarks in North America: Böer was located in Newark, Delaware, where he had joined the Physics and Engineering Faculties at the University of Delaware in 1971.
Professor Görlich passed away in 1986 and was followed as an editor-in-chief by Professor E. Gutsche who kept the position till 1995. Then, Martin Stutzmann, who had moved from my MPI Department in Stuttgart to Munich, to occupy a chair at the Technical University and a Directorship at the Walter Schottky Institute, was chosen as his successor. Under his able leadership the various sections of the journal have improved their Impact Factors, especially the Rapid Research Letters launched in 2007 (2009 Impact Factor 2.56).
My group at Brown University published its first article in pss in 1970, thus coinciding with the relaxation of international tensions mentioned above. Its authors were T. Tuomi, a Finnish postdoc, myself, and F. H. Pollak, a member of the Brown faculty recently deceased. Its title was “Stress dependence of E1 and E1 + Δ1 transitions in InSb and GaSb” 2. This was the first of about 100 articles my Brown and MPI groups published thus far. The reader is probably aware of the so-called h-index of impact introduced by Hirsch 3 (631 citations to date): h = 100 means that a given author has 100 papers cited 100 times or more. The papers cited more times than the h-index are nowadays referred to as the “Hirsch core” of a given author. Five of the articles in my Hirsch core were published in physica status solidi. They are:
“Infrared spectrum and structure of hydrogenated amorphous silicon” (1980), 386 cites 4.
“Vibrational spectra of hydrogen in silicon and germanium” (1983), 355 cites 5.
“Vibrational spectrum of hydrogenated amorphous Si–C films” (1979), 320 cites 6.
“Deformation potentials of k = 0 states of tetrahedral semiconductors” (1984), 226 cites 7.
“Photoemission and density of valence states of II–VI compounds. 1. ZnTe, CdSe, CdTe, HgSe, and HgTe” (1973), 103 cites 8.
These examples illustrate the importance that physica status solidi has had in my scientific career, which has been about as long as that of the journal. I would like to thank the various editors who helped me in this endeavor and wish the journal additional 50 years of successful activity.
I would like to conclude by dedicating this note to my dear friend and mentor Jan Tauc who passed away peacefully on December 28, 2010 of cardiac failure. After retiring from Brown University in the year 2002 he and his wife moved to Washougal, Washington State, so as to be close to their children and family. I first met him in 1960 at the International Conference on the Physics of Semiconductors (5th ICPS). I had just finished my PhD and had started at RCA Labs, Zurich, to work on the optical properties of semiconductors above the gap, a field that Jan had pioneered. I was then just a beginner whereas Jan, Chairman of the Program Committee of the conference, was already a famous man in the West and the East (the latter in spite of not being a member of the communist party, not a trivial achievement). In my discussions with him on matters of scientific interest I always had the feeling that he treated me like an equal, in spite of the difference in age and scientific standing. This gave rise to a friendship between my family and Jan and Vera Tauc that endured till their death did us part. I have already mentioned the service Jan did to physica status solidi. He had many students and coworkers during his 40 years of scientific life which, through the vagaries of history, were spent half in Prague and half in Providence, RI. He was a paradigm of such vagaries. At age 16 he was expelled on short notice from the Sudetenland by the Nazis and started high school in Nimes, France, but had to return to Czechoslovakia after 1 year as a result of the German annexation. After the war he took an undergraduate degree at the overcrowded Charles University, hardly being able to attend classes, and obtained a doctorate in technical sciences in 1949. By that time the communists took over the government through a coup, a fact which resulted in the transfer of most of the research activity from the universities to the Czech Academy of Sciences (ČSAV), created on the Soviet model. In spite of his lack of political credentials, Jan was asked to head the semiconductors department of an institute of the ČSAV, a department he brought to international prominence, which culminated in the organization of the 5th ICPS 1960 in Prague. In 1968, after the so-called Prague spring, the forces of the Warsaw Pact invaded Czechoslovakia causing the emigration of great many scientists, including Jan and the demise of Czech science. The rest of the story has already been told. Last year, taking advantage of the fact that the March meeting of the American Physical Society was being held in Portland, OR, not too far from Jan's new home on the other side of the Columbia River (where he and Vera had moved in 2006 to be close to their children), several friends and collaborators, including myself, visited Jan and spent about a day with him. He was saddened by the absence of Vera and weakened by illness but his spirits were good and we had a great sweet and sour time recalling the past. Although we could surmise the proximity of his departure we hoped to be able to see him again. Unfortunately this did not come to pass. We shall keep a vivid memory of his achievements and his humanity.
Manuel Cardona was born in Barcelona in 1934. He received his Doctor of Sciences from the University of Madrid in 1958 and a PhD in Applied Physics from Harvard University in 1959. In 1967 he became Professor of Physics at Brown University. In 1971 he became Scientific Member and Director of the Max Planck Institute for Solid State Research, Stuttgart. Since 2000 he has been Director Emeritus. His areas of research include the optical spectroscopy of semiconductors and high temperature superconductors. He is author of over 1200 scientific publications in international journals as well as of several books and is one of the eight most highly cited physicists during the past 40 years. He is a member of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States, the Royal Society of Canada, the Academia Mexicana de Ciencias, and the Accademia Nazionale dei Lincei (Rome). He has been awarded eleven doctorates h.c. Since 1972 he has been a member of the Editorial Board of pss (b).