L. Arthur D'Asaro

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1927 - 2013
L. Arthur D'Asaro, PhD, died March 6, 2013 at age 86. He was a distinguished Bell Labs researcher and pioneer in the fields of semiconductor devices and solid-state electronics, with 21 patents and 100 publications.

A memorial service will be held on May 28th, 2013 at 7 p.m. at the Madison Presbyterian Church in the Webb Memorial Chapel, 19 Green Ave., Madison NJ 07940.

Arthur D'Asaro was born in Buffalo, New York on January 20, 1927 to Lucio D'Asaro and Viola Wassman D'Asaro. He moved to the small farming town of Verona, Illinois in 1931, where he grew up during the Great Depression, living with his mother and grandmother who worked as telegraphers. He attended a two-room school through 8th grade. The family had no running water or inside plumbing, so it was Arthur's job to pump water and carry it into the house, and also bring in coal for the stove. In seventh grade he got a paper route, earning money to further his interest in science by buying a microscope, a telescope, and a chemistry set. Luckily, he was able to attend high school in the larger town of Ottawa, IL, where he was able to take biology, chemistry, and physics before graduating in 1944.

Arthur attended Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois for one semester, but enlisted in the Navy in January, 1945, when he turned 18. He completed the electronics training program, which was called radio technology. Unfortunately, he also contracted scarlet fever and almost died, but was saved by the new wonder drug, penicillin. After the war, he returned to Northwestern University, and in 1950 he earned both bachelor's and master's degrees in physics. For graduate studies, Arthur chose Cornell University in Ithaca New York, where he met and married his wife Barbara and had his first child. After he graduated in February, 1955, they moved to Madison, New Jersey, bought a house, and had three more children. He also enjoyed outdoor activities and was an avid skier and equestrian.

Upon receiving a PhD in engineering physics from Cornell University, Dr. L. Arthur D'Asaro accepted a position at Bell Laboratories, Murray Hill, New Jersey, where he worked for the next 46 years, becoming a Distinguished Member of Technical Staff in the Research Area. He specialized in semiconductor device research and development, where he contributed greatly to the budding field of solid-state electronics. Most significantly, in 1956, two years before Jack Kerby became famous for inventing the integrated circuit at Texas Instruments, Arthur D'Asaro built a four-stage counter called a stepping transistor by forming multiple interconnected transistors on the same substrate, thereby creating what would now be considered a primitive integrated circuit. Other accomplishments at Bell Labs include inventing the first practical avalanche photodiode and epitaxially-grown Schottky barrier diode, as well as various contributions to early semiconductor laser technology. After retiring from Bell Labs at the end of 2000, Arthur joined Princeton Optronics in January 2001, where he contributed to the research and development of high-power VCSEL (Vertical-Cavity Surface-Emitting Laser) arrays.
Published on NYTimes.com from May 7 to May 8, 2013
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