Clarence Burke Swan


  • 1986, Microwave Application Award, Past Awardees**


The recipient of the 1986 Microwave Applications Award is C. Burke Swan of AT&T Bell Laboratories at Murray Hill, New Jersey.
Dr. Swan introduced the use of diamond to conduct the heat away from high-power microwave IMPATT
oscillator diodes. This was one of a group of effective measures introduced by him for optimizing the output
power, the efficiency, and the reliability of microwave IMPATT diodes. Type-Ha diamond is three-to-five times
as effective as copper in conducting heat away from small intense heat sources. He showed that small pieces of
diamond, only a millimeter on a side and costing only a few dollars each, could allow power dissipation densities
of megawatts per square centimeer in very small area semiconductor devices.
The application of the diamond heat sink, the recognition of the importance of optimizing the heat sink design,
and the combination of other contributions resulted in Dr. Swan achieving record power levels and efficiencies for
IMPATT diodes over the frequency range 6 GHz to 49 GHz. Dr. Swan authored six papers in 1967 and 1968
which established that the power limitations for IMPATTs were primarily thermal not electrical. His pioneering
work helped spark the world-wide thrust on IMPATT development which made these diodes the most important
solid-state microwave source in communication and radar until the introduction of GaAs FETs in the 1970s.
The diamond heat sink was immediately extended to semiconductor lasers by co-workers. This made possible
for the first time the CW operation of GaAs lasers at room temperature. Today, in addition to high-power
IMPATTs, many high-reliability high-power semiconductor lasers are mounted on diamond heat sinks.
C. Burke Swan was born in New Brunswick, Canada, on November 9th, 1932. He received the B. Sc. degree in
Electrical Engineering from the University of New Brunswick and the M.A. Sc. and the Ph.D. degrees from the
University of Toronto.
He joined AT&T Bell Laboratories in 1962. His early work included research on high power harmonic
generation with microwave gaseous plasmas, and the first experiments with stacked varactors for higher power and
better efficiency.
In 1969 he became supervisor of the Microwave Integrated Circuits group at Allentown, Pennsylvania. Since
1978 has supervised the development of high-bit-rate lightwave transmitters for both terrestrial applications and for
the TAT-8 undersea system.
He as been granted eight patents and has published more than twenty papers. Dr. Swan is a Senior Member of
the IEEE and is a member of the American Optical Society, the Association of Professional Engineers of Ontario,
and the American Association for the Advancement of Science.