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Donald L. Klein

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Biography

Donald L. Klein, with Robert E. Kerwin and John C. Sarace, received the 1994 IEEE Jack A. Morton Award "For pioneering work and the basic patent on the self-aligned silicon-gate process, a key element in fabrication of very large scale integrated circuits."

Klein was born on December 19, 1930 and grew up in Brooklyn, New York. He attended the Polytechnic Institute of Brooklyn (now Polytechnic Institute of New York University) and graduate in 1952 with a bachelor's degree in chemistry. After graduation he began working in the semiconductor field as a chemist at Sylvania Electrical Products, Inc. in Woburn, Massachusetts. Klein remained at Sylvania until 1954, when he began his master's program in inorganic chemistry at the University of Connecticut. He received his master's in 1956, and continued on to earn his doctoral degree in inorganic chemistry, also at the University of Connecticut.

Klein began his career at Bell Laboratories in 1958, where he worked on the development of semiconductors. Specifically, he and his colleagues worked to develop etching techniques and ways to prevent contamination in the process of semiconductor production. In 1966, Klein led a group of scientists that came together to create a better process for building field-effect transistor (FET) devices. Out of this collective brainstorming session emerged the silicon-gate process, which created an insulated gate for FET devices. Klein and his group published numerous papers on this new technology and also applied to patent the process. Klein remained at Bell Labs until 1968, when he joined IBM.

While at IBM, Klein worked as a senior engineer, manager, and technical staff consultant. He also taught in the Department of Physical Sciences at Dutchess Community College in Poughkeepsie, New York, in addition to his duties at IBM, between 1987 and 1988.

Numerous organizations and institutions have recognized Klein for his work. In addition to the Morton Award, he received the 1982 IBM Invention Award and was an inductee in the New Jersey Inventors Hall of Fame (1994) and Brooklyn Technical High School Alumni Hall of Fame (1999).