N. Bruce Hannay
The information listed below is current as of the date the transcript was finalized.
Abstract of Interview
The interview begins with Dr. Hannay describing his family background and his early education in Washington state. Both his high school chemistry teacher and his older brother greatly influenced his decision to pursue chemistry and to attend Swarthmore College, where he received a BA in chemistry in 1942. With the advent of World War II, Hannay received a student deferment from the draft because his doctoral thesis at Princeton University—involving the measurement of dipole moments—related to the synthetic rubber program. While still at Princeton, Hugh Taylor involved him in the Manhattan Project and after receiving his PhD in 1944, Hannay took a job with Bell Laboratories, where he continued his work on the Manhattan Project. Once the war ended, Hannay began research on the mechanisms of thermionic emission from oxide cathodes. The invention of the transistor in 1947 led him to focus on silicon, which was deemed more useful in semiconductor research than single crystals of germanium. This work resulted in Hannay's development of a mass spectrograph to analyze solids. Soon after, Bell Labs asked him to coordinate the silicon research. In 1954, Hannay became a research supervisor, and he discovered a preference for management. Following this inclination, he continued on at Bell Labs in various management capacities until his retirement in 1982. This interview concludes with Hannay's brief assessment of the chemical industry and its need for more research autonomy.
|1943||Princeton University||MA||Physical Chemistry|
|1944||Princeton University||PhD||Physical Chemistry|
Bell Telephone Laboratories
Acheson Medal, The Electrochemical Society
Honorary PhD, Tel Aviv University
Honorary DSc, Swarthmore College
Honorary DSc, Polytechnic Institute of New York
Perkin Medal, Society of Chemical Industry (American Section)
Table of Contents
Family background. High school interest in chemistry. Influence of brother.
Attendance at Swarthmore College. Laboratory experience. Outbreak of World War II. Graduate work at Princeton University with Charlie Smyth. Doctoral thesis on dipole moments. Teaching assistantship in physics.
Involvement of Hugh Taylor. Transition to Bell Laboratories. Work on gaseous diffusion. Discussion of atomic bomb.
Research freedom. Discussion of importance of silicon. Development of mass spectrograph to analyze solids. Evolution of solid state chemistry. Promotion through research management. Work with gallium arsenide.
Consulting at Rohm and Haas, Eastman Kodak, Atlantic Richfield. Foreign Secretary of National Academy of Engineering.
Importance of intellectual freedom in research.
About the Interviewer
James J. Bohning was professor emeritus of chemistry at Wilkes University, where he had been a faculty member from 1959 to 1990. He served there as chemistry department chair from 1970 to 1986 and environmental science department chair from 1987 to 1990. Bohning was chair of the American Chemical Society’s Division of the History of Chemistry in 1986; he received the division’s Outstanding Paper Award in 1989 and presented more than forty papers at national meetings of the society. Bohning was on the advisory committee of the society’s National Historic Chemical Landmarks Program from its inception in 1992 through 2001 and is currently a consultant to the committee. He developed the oral history program of the Chemical Heritage Foundation, and he was CHF’s director of oral history from 1990 to 1995. From 1995 to 1998, Bohning was a science writer for the News Service group of the American Chemical Society. In May 2005, he received the Joseph Priestley Service Award from the Susquehanna Valley Section of the American Chemical Society. Bohning passed away in September 2011.