Photosynthesis Research

, Volume 132, Issue 3, pp 227–234 | Cite as

Frederick Yi-Tung Cho (1939–2011)

His PhD days in Biophysics, the Photosynthesis Lab, and his patents in engineering physics
  • GovindjeeEmail author
  • John C. MundayJr.
  • George C. Papageorgiou


We present here a Tribute to Frederick Yi-Tung Cho (1939–2011), an innovative and ingenious biophysicist and an entrepreneur. He was one of the 4 earliest PhD students [see: Cederstrand (1965)—Carl Nelson Cederstrand; coadvisor: Eugene Rabinowitch; Papageorgiou (1968)—George C. Papageorgiou (coauthor of this paper); and Munday (1968)—John C. Munday Jr. (also a coauthor of this paper)] of one of us (Govindjee) in Biophysics at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) during the late 1960s (1963–1968). Fred was best known, in the photosynthesis circle for his pioneering work on low temperature (down to liquid helium temperature, 4 K) absorption and fluorescence spectroscopy of photosynthetic systems; he showed temperature independence of excitation energy transfer from (i) chlorophyll (Chl) b to Chl a and (ii) from Chl a 670 to Chl a 678; and temperature dependence of energy transfer from the phycobilins to Chl a and from Chl a 678 to its suggested trap. After doing research in biophysics of photosynthesis, Fred shifted to do research in solid-state physics/engineering in the Government Electronics Division (Group) of the Motorola Company, Scottsdale, Arizona, from where he published research papers in that area and had several patents granted. We focus mainly on his days at the UIUC in context of the laboratory in which he worked. We also list some of his papers and most of his patents in engineering physics. His friends and colleagues have correctly described him as an innovator and an ingenious scientist of the highest order. On the personal side, he was a very easy-going and amiable individual.


Excitation energy transfer Liquid helium temperature Motorola company Biophysics of photosynthesis Govindjee Lab Surface wave devices Acoustic charge transport 



We thank Greg Scholes for suggestions regarding interpretation of Fred’s research, Thomas Hickernell for his contribution, and Sandra Stirbet for preparing Table 1 (see the Appendix) on the patents granted to Fred Cho and his coworkers. Our special thanks go to Jing (Jean) Wang for her crucial support to Fred when he needed it the most. We thank all the staff of the Department of Plant Biology, Department of Biochemistry, and Center of Biophysics and Quantitative Biology for their cooperation in providing information on Fred Cho. All the material used in this article is taken from the personal files in the office of one of us (Govindjee).

Supplementary material

11120_2017_391_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (9.5 mb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 9706 KB)


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  • Govindjee
    • 1
    Email author
  • John C. MundayJr.
    • 2
  • George C. Papageorgiou
    • 3
  1. 1.Department of Biochemistry, Department of Plant Biology, and Center of Biophysics & Quantitative BiologyUniversity of Illinois at Urbana-ChampaignUrbanaUSA
  2. 2.College of Arts and SciencesRegent UniversityVirginia BeachUSA
  3. 3.Institute of Biosciences and ApplicationsNational Center of Scientific Research ‘‘Demokritos’’AthensGreece

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