Prof. Emeritus Hellmut Fritzsche spent his career exploring semiconductors—materials that are the foundation of modern electronics. In particular, the experimental physicist became one of the world’s foremost experts on amorphous semiconductors, working with inventor Stan Ovshinsky to turn these materials into technology that would define the late 20th century—TV displays, computer memory and solar panels.
A member of the UChicago faculty for nearly 40 years and a former chairman of the Department of Physics, Fritzsche died June 17 at age 91. Colleagues remembered Fritzsche’s passion and energy, his intellectual generosity and his inventiveness in the laboratory.
“He was a very clever experimentalist. He took enormous pride in being able to solve experimental problems ingeniously,” said Thomas Rosenbaum, president of California Institute of Technology and a former colleague in UChicago’s Department of Physics. “You’d go to his lab and see things he built which were very simple but could do very complicated measurements. He had that touch.”
The Louis Block Professor Emeritus in Physics, Fritzsche was recruited to UChicago in 1957 after fixing the car of a stranded motorist who turned out to be with the UChicago physics faculty, said Morrel Cohen, a distinguished scientist at Rutgers University and senior chemist at Princeton University who worked with Fritzsche at UChicago for more than 20 years.