The Salty Semiconductor
In 1933 Robert Pohl of Berlin gave a speech during which he demonstrated that electrons could enter one end of a crystal from an electrode and travel for a considerable distance towards an electrode at the other end of the crystal.
Pohl went on to predict that vacuum tubes would one day be replaced in radios by crystals in which the movement of electrons could be controlled.
In 1938, Pohl and Rudolf Hilsch built the world’s first functioning solid-state amplifier using salt as the semiconductor material.
Unfortunately Pohl was uninterested in looking at applications for his discovery.
“We had no practical aims in mind,” he said, “either one works in a university, or one is a man who gets involved in litigation about technical devices.”