Alec Nigel Broers

Having graduated with his BA in 1962, he then started the serious business of his PhD, working with Professor Oatley to begin with on scanning electron microscopes, and later with Dr William C. Nixon.

Sir Alec Broers with an Electron MicroscopeHowever his work was not on using the microscopes for visual observations, but on using them as a tool to scribe things. This was the pioneering work in nanotechnology that has led to the production of the now familiar miniature electronic circuits that are part of all of our lives today. "I had a marvellous time doing research" he recalls "I had essentially turned my hobby into my career". He remembers having a roomful of electronics and was overjoyed to spend his time building new things and testing them.

He then moved to the IBM research laboratories in New York: "I went for two years and stayed for twenty". There he spent around 16 years in research in one of the best 'playhouses for electronics' in the world, building microscopes and equipment for the fabrication of miniature components. In 1977 he was given the enviable position of being an IBM fellow, an honour accorded to only around 40 out of the 40, 000 staff. This gave him the freedom to follow whatever road of enquiry he wished, with no commercial constraint. However, he found it very difficult to take advantage of this position in the environment of a huge company like IBM.