As early as 1939, William Shockley began experiments at Bell Laboratories to develop semiconductors as amplifiers and rectifiers. His research was interrupted by the war, but in 1945 he returned to Bell and, together with the theoretical physicist John Bardeen and the experimental physicist Walter H. Brattain, succeeded in discovering the transistor.
This required less current, generated less heat, was more durable and smaller than the electron tube used until then. In 1953 Shockley became director of transistor physics, and in 1955 he left Bell to establish his own semiconductor laboratory.
In 1956, Bardeen, Brattain, and Shockley were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for research on semiconductors and the discovery of the transistor effect. In 1958, Shockley was appointed to Stanford University and devoted himself to the study of energy bands in solids, order states in alloys, self-diffusion in copper, and ferromagnetic domains and the further development of semiconductors.