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L. Arthur D'Asaro Papers

Identifier: 2014-009

Scope and Content

The L. Arthur D’Asaro Papers contain the personal papers of American physicist and electronics engineer L. Arthur D’Asaro. The collection is arranged into the following eight series:

  1. Bell Laboratories Files
  2. Princeton Optronics Files
  3. Personal Files
  4. Printed Materials
  5. Audio-Visual Materials
  6. Electronic Storage Materials
  7. Oversized Materials
  8. Photographic Materials


  • Creation: 1946-2013
  • Creation: Majority of material found within Bulk 1955-2008


Language of Materials

Collection materials are mostly in English. A small amount of materials in Russian, German, Chinese, and Japanese are also in the collection.

Access Restrictions

There are no access restrictions on the materials for research purposes and the collection is open to the public.

Copyright Information

The Science History Institute holds copyright to the L. Arthur D’Asaro Papers. The researcher assumes full responsibility for all copyright, property, and libel laws as they apply.

Background Note

L. Arthur D’Asaro was an American physicist and electronics engineer. D’Asaro was born in Buffalo, New York on January 20, 1927 and spent most of his childhood in Illinois. He became interested in science and technology at a young age. D’Asaro entered Northwestern University in 1944, but interrupted his education after one semester to serve in the United States Navy during World War II. While serving in the military, he completed the Navy’s electronics training program. After the war, D’Asaro returned to Northwestern and earned his B.S. in Physics in 1949. He furthered his education by earning his M.S. in Physics from Northwestern in 1950 and his Ph.D. in Engineering Physics from Cornell University in 1955.

In 1955, D’Asaro accepted a research staff position at Bell Laboratories in Murray Hill, New Jersey, where he went on to enjoy a distinguished 46 year career. At Bell Laboratories, he became a noted pioneer in the research and development of semiconductor devices and processing. During the mid and late 1950s, under the supervision of future Bell Laboratories president Ian Ross, D’Asaro worked to develop silicon semiconductor devices. While working under Ross, he built a stepping transistor, which is now considered to be a precursor to the integrated circuit. Between 1959 and 1962, D’Asaro worked on tunnel diodes and played an instrumental role in the development of electronics technology employing gallium arsenide. Between 1962 and 1965, he worked on varactor diodes. In this capacity, he invented the first Schottky barrier mixer and the first practical avalanche photodiode.

D’Asaro turned his attention to lasers during the mid 1960s. Over the next several decades, he played an instrumental role in Bell Laboratories’ development of early semiconductor laser technology. During the late 1960s and early 1970s, he contributed to the development of striped geometry lasers and helped with the discovery of dark line defects in junction lasers. Between the mid 1970s and late 1980s, D’Asaro concentrated his efforts on gallium arsenide field effect transistors (FETs), which led to his contributions in the development of via transistors. Between 1987 and 1995, he worked on massively parallel optical input/output devices for use in central office switching systems. While doing this, he helped develop the first large arrays of field effect transistor-self electrooptic effect devices (FET-SEEDs). During his last years with Bell Laboratories, he contributed to the development of vertical cavity surface-emitting lasers (VCSELs).

Over the course of his career at Bell Laboratories, D’Asaro rose through the ranks of the research staff hierarchy, eventually reaching the rank of Distinguished Technical Staff in 1984. D’Asaro retired from Bell Laboratories in 1996, but continued to serve as a consultant for a number of years. He left Bell Laboratories for good in 2000.

In 2001, D’Asaro accepted a consultant position with Princeton Optronics, Incorporated, a manufacturer of vertical cavity surface-emitting lasers (VCSELs) based in Mercerville, New Jersey. At Princeton Optronics, he continued to be a respected pioneer in the development of VCSEL technology. He made a number of technological contributions that improved Princeton Optronics’ product line, including in plating for low temperature bonding and developing procedures for spray cleaning wafers and chips. D’Asaro retired from Princeton Optronics in 2008.

A productive inventor, L. Arthur D’Asaro was awarded over twenty patents over the course of his career, including those for a semiconductor pulse translating system (1962) and curved junction laser devices (1971). He was also the author of numerous papers and articles, and was an active number of several professional and scientific organizations, including the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and the American Physical Society.

L. Arthur D’Asaro passed away on March 6, 2013.


L. Arthur D’Asaro Papers, Chemical Heritage Foundation Archives, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.


91.0 Linear Feet ((61 Record Boxes, 1 Hollinger Box, 1 CD-ROM Box, 2 Photo Negative Boxes, and 2 Oversized Boxes) )


Research files, personal files, printed materials, audio-visual materials, electronic storage materials, and photographic materials of American physicist and electronics engineer L. Arthur D’Asaro.

Acquisition Information

The L. Arthur D’Asaro Papers were donated to the Science History Institute (formerly the Chemical Heritage Foundation) by Eric D’Asaro in February 2014.

Related Materials

There are no other known archival collections created by L. Arthur D’Asaro preserved at the date of processing.

Processing Information

The L. Arthur D’Asaro Papers were processed by Kenton G. Jaehnig in May 2017.

L. Arthur D'Asaro Papers
Finding aid created and encoded into EAD by Kenton G. Jaehnig.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the Science History Institute Archives Repository

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