Bachelor of Science, University Tokyo, 1947. Doctor of Philosophy, University Tokyo, 1959.
He is known for his invention of the Esaki diode, which exploited that phenomenon. This research was done when he was with Tokyo Tsushin Kogyo (now known as Sony). He has also contributed in being a pioneer of the semiconductor superlattice while he was with International Business Machines Corporation. He was born in Osaka, Japan. in 1947 and his Doctor of Philosophy in 1959.
He moved to the United States in 1960 and joined the International Business Machines Corporation T. J. Watson Research Center, where he became an International Business Machines Corporation Fellow in 1967.
His first paper on the semiconductor superlattice was published when he was with International Business Machines Corporation. A comment by Esaki in a 1987 number of Current Contents regarding the original paper on superlattices notes:
"The original version of the paper was rejected for publication by Physical Review on the referee"s unimaginative assertion that it was "too speculative" and involved "no new physics." However, this proposal was quickly accepted by the Army Research Office.."
Subsequently, he was the President of various Japanese universities, for example, University of Tsukuba and Shibaura Institute of Technology. Since 2006 he is the President of the Yokohama College of Pharmacy.
Fellow Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (Morris N. Liebman Memorial prize 1961, Medal of Honor 1991), American Physical Society (councillor-at-large 1971-1974), international prize for new materials 1985, Japan prize, 1998), conferred Grand Cordon Order of Rising Sun, Japan Physical Society, American Vacuum Society (board directors 1973-1974). Member NAS (foreign associate), National Academy of Engineering (foreign associate), American Academy Arts and Sciences, American Philosophical Society, Max-Planck Gesellschaft, Russian Academy Sciences (foreign), Academia Nacional de Ingenieria Mexico (correspondent), Japan Academy.
Married Masako Araki, 1959. Children: Nina Yvonne, Anna Eileen, Eugene Leo. Married Masako Kondo, May 31, 1986.