In 2001, the SIF established the prestigious “Enrico Fermi” Prize, on the occasion of the centenary of the birth of the great scientist. This prize is given annually to one or more individuals who have specially influenced physics with their discoveries.
A commission of experts appointed by the SIF and the major research institutions in Italy, namely CNR, INAF, INFN, INGV, INRIM and the Fermi Centre, selects the winner among a list of candidates and forwards the proposal to the Council of the SIF for final approval.
Following the decision taken by the selection Commission and confirmed by the SIF Council during its meeting of 26 July, the “Enrico Fermi” Prize 2014 of the Italian Physical Society was awarded to Federico Faggin, with the following citation:
“For the invention of the MOS silicon gate technology that led him to the realization in 1971 of the first modern microprocessor.”
It is the first time that the SIF has bestowed the Fermi Prize for a technological breakthrough. The award ceremony took place on 22 September, during the Opening Ceremony of the 100th National Congress of the Italian Physical Society at Pisa, in the Aula Magna of the “Pontecorvo Area” of the University.
Federico Faggin is one of the many Italians who, after being born, raised and educated entirely in Italy, moved to the USA where he made fundamental technological contributions in the field of microelectronics. He then became a successful entrepreneur. Federico Faggin, hailing from the city of Vicenza, graduated in Physics at the University of Padua. In 1968 he invented the “Silicon Gate Technology (SGT)” for the manufacture of MOS integrated circuits at Fairchild Semiconductor in Palo Alto, California. Hired by Intel in 1971, Faggin designed the world’s first microprocessor, the Intel 4004, and then all the early Intel microprocessors up to the 8080 model. In 1975, Faggin founded the first of three companies, Zilog, which created the Z80 microprocessor. From inventor-designer, Faggin subsequently became an entrepreneur and founded several other high-tech firms. Faggin is currently honorary president of Synaptics, which he started in 1986.
The Fermi Prize award to Federico Faggin follows closely that given last year (see previous article in e-EPS) to the five Italian physicists: Pierluigi Campana, Simone Giani, Fabiola Gianotti, Paolo Giubellino and Guido Tonelli, for the important results that the five international collaboration experiments – LHCb, TOTEM, ATLAS, ALICE, CMS – have obtained at the CERN LHC during their first period of data taking. This data taking was carried out under the effective leadership of the above winners, in their capacity of spokespersons of the respective experiments, in all of which microprocessors play a crucial role!