On 29 November 2008, Professor Dr. Adolf Goetzberger, the founder of the Fraunhofer Institute for Solar Energy Systems ISE, turned 80 years old. In 1976, Goetzberger was well-known semiconductor expert and head of a research institute with 180 employees, but in 1981, he decided to head out on his own and start the Fraunhofer ISE with only 18 employees. Today the ISE has grown to employee more than 800 people for the advancement of solar energy.
For the first 25 years of his professional life, Goetzberger worked in the semiconductor industry at U.S. researchers like Shockley Laboratory in California and Bell Laboratories in Murray Hill, New Jersey. In 1968, Goetzberger returned to Germany and was director of the Fraunhofer Institute for Applied Solid State Physics IAG in Freiburg.
The University of Freiburg appointed him as honorary professor in the Department of Physics in 1971 and during his career he was mentor and supervisor to many diploma and doctoral students. Goetzberger received an honorary doctoral title from the University Uppsala in 1995.
He has received numerous awards throughout his professional life, which include the Medal of Merit from the Land Baden-Württemberg, the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany, the Achievement through Action Award from ISES, the Farrington Daniels Award of ISES and the Einstein Award from Solar World AG in 2006. One noteworthy award was one of his earliest, the J.J. Ebers Award from the IEEE Electron Devices Society. He was the first German to receive the award for his technical achievements in the field of electronic components.
Professor Goetzberger stepped down as Institute Director upon his retirement in 1993. On 5 December 2008, he will celebrate his birthday with Fraunhofer ISE at a festive gala.