Oleg Vladimirovich Losev lived from
10 May 1903 - 22 January 1942.
Being born into the noble family
of a Russian Imperial Army officer was not exactly a good starting
point in Bolshevik Russia, where people of such descent were banned
from the career ladder.
Losev's Papers Were Much More
He published a
number of papers and patents during his short career. His
observations of LEDs languished for half a century before being
recognized in the late 20th and early 21st century.
H. J. Round made a
very brief report (only 2 paragraphs) in Electrical World in 1907,
regarding light coming from SiC by electrical excitation. But
Losev's papers provided much more detailed information than Round's.
In the course of his work as a radio
technician, he noticed that diodes used in radio receivers emitted
light when current was passed through them. In 1927, Losev published
details in a Russian journal of the first-ever light-emitting diode.
In the period of 1924 and 1941, he published a number of articles
detailing the function of a device that he developed, which would
generate light via electroluminescence when electrons fall to a
lower energy level.
In 1951, Kurt Lehovec et al.
published an important paper in Physical Review, and while Losev's
papers were cited, his name appeared as Lossew. Kurt Lehovec's
theoretical explanation was much better than Losev's.
Round and Losev experimented with SiC which was used as a radio
detector in the early days of wireless. However, SiC is an indirect
bandgap semiconductor and very inefficient as a material for
GaN is a direct bandgap
semiconductor and so expected to be the more efficient material. The
light from even modern SiC LED is somewhat faint but the light from
InGaN LED can be dazzlingly bright. Thus neither Round's nor Losev's
pioneering work, even if it had been continued, was likely to lead
to a practical success.
In the April 2007 issue of Nature
Photonics, Nikolay Zheludev gives credit to Losev for inventing the
LED. Specifically, Losev patented the "Light Relay" and foresaw its
use in telecommunications.
Unfortunately, before this
device could be developed, the Second World War intervened, and
Losev died in 1942 during The Siege of Leningrad (now St.
Petersburg), at the age of 39.