Una identità in movimento

The development of Physics in Cuba during the sixties and seventies of the 20th Century: an integrated approach

Angelo Baracca* — Victor Fajer** — Victor Bruno Henríquez***

* Department of Physics, University of Florence, Italy
** Center of Applied Studies to Nuclear Development. Cuba
*** Center for Energy Research. Cuba

The development of Physics in Cuba after the victory of the Revolution represents an extremely interesting case study: in an underdeveloped country, starting from a very low level initial situation in sciences and higher education, in a very short period of approximately 15 years, a remarkable level was reached in many fundamental fields, and research work achieved a good international level in semiconductor devices and microelectronics, optics, instrumentation and other fields.

Such a speedy process was made possible in the first place by the efforts of the Cuban scientists and the revolutionary government, based on the consciousness of the importance of the technical and scientific development for the growth of the country. Help and sponsorship from Soviet and Eastern Europe physicists and scientific institutions played a fundamental role: more surprisingly, direct support from a lot of "occidental" physicists and institutions appears also important, mainly during the first decade, and in the conduction of scientific research in the above mentioned fields.

The initial steps of the "Physics School" of the Havana University (UH), in the first half of the sixties, were very difficult: despite the support of foreign professors, the "Study Program" could reach a stable structure only after the return in 1966 of the first physicists graduated in the Soviet Union. The early activity in semiconductor devices began with the support of Theodore Veltfort, from the USA, and Dina Waisman, from Argentina.

Between 1968 and 1973, Italian and mainly French physicists organized the "Summer Schools" of Havana, bringing devices and materials. In 1970 French physicists gave courses in the "Eastern University" (UO). In 1969 germanium diodes and transistors were manufactured, and in 1970 the "Planar Technology Laboratory" was created. The French physicists introduced the silicon planar technology, which allowed the development of medium integration microelectronics in the first half of the seventies. Meanwhile other important activities developed, like those in nuclear physics, optics, geophysics, astronomy, metrology and others.

Around the half of the seventies the Cuban scientific system had reached a stable structure and could proceed towards its maturity.

Cuba. Una identità in movimento

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