Dr. Joseph J. Loferski

Inducted: 2002

Dr. Joseph J. Loferski, physicist and pioneer in the development of modern solar cells, hewas professor emeritus and chair of engineering at Brown. Born and educated in Pennsylvania, Dr. Loferski focused his career on photovoltaic cells and the properties of semiconductors. He joined the Brown faculty as an associate professor of engineering in 1961 and served as chairman of the university’s division of engineering from 1968 to 1974. He also served as associate dean of the graduate school from 1980 to 1983.

He spent his career searching for ways to harness solar energy. As early as the 1970s he argued that the ultimate energy in the world would be derived from the sun, and hoped concern about pollution would provide motivation to start research on cheap, abundant, and efficient solar energy. He also wrote and spoke extensively on the physics of semiconductor materials like silicon. Dr. Loferski was well known outside of Brown as well. In 1967-68, he served as counselor at the European Space Technology Center in the Netherlands, and in the mid-70s he was an exchange fellow at the Polish Institute of Nuclear Research. He also served as a science and technology counselor at the U.S. Embassy in Warsaw, 1985-87. Dr. Loferski was a consultant for the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the Departments of Defense and the Navy, as well as private companies, including RCA and Honeywell. He was also the co-recipient of six patents in the semiconductor field and was a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers, which gave him the William R. Cherry Award in 1981. Dr. Loferski published more than 150 technical papers and contributed chapters to five books. He died in January 1997 in Miriam Hospital in Providence.

Brown University’s School of Engineering gives The Joseph J. Loferski Award to a senior who shows exceptional promise for a career in solar electricity.

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