Sze was born in Nanjing, China, and grew up in Taiwan. After graduating from the National Taiwan University in 1957, he received a master's degree from the University of Washington in 1960 and a doctorate from Stanford University in 1963. He worked for Bell Labs until 1990, after which he returned to Taiwan and joined the faculty of National Chiao Tung University. He is well known for his work in semiconductor physics and technology, including his 1967 discovery (with Dawon Kahng) of the floating-gate transistor, now widely used in non-volatile semiconductor memory devices. He has written and edited many books, including Physics of Semiconductor Devices, one of the most-cited texts in its field. Sze received the J J Ebers Award in 1991 for his work in electron devices.
- Physics of Semiconductor Devices, S. M. Sze. New York: Wiley, 1969, ISBN 0-471-84290-7; 2nd ed., 1981, ISBN 0-471-05661-8; 3rd ed., with Kwok K. Ng, 2006, ISBN 0-471-14323-5.
- Nonvolatile Memories: Materials, Devices and Applications" 2-volume set, Tseung-Yuen Tseng and Simon M. Sze. Los Angeles: American Scientific Publishers, 2012; ISBN 1-58883-250-3.
- Semiconductor Devices: Physics and Technology, S. M. Sze. New York: Wiley, 1985; 2nd ed., 2001, ISBN 0-471-33372-7; 3rd ed., 2012, ISBN 978-0470-53794-7.
- VLSI Technology, ed. S. M. Sze. New York: McGraw-Hill, 1983, ISBN 0-07-062686-3; 2nd ed., 1988, ISBN 0-07-062735-5.
- Modern Semiconductor Device Physics, ed. S. M. Sze. New York: John Wiley & Sons, Inc., 1998, ISBN 0-471-15237-4.
- D. Kahng and S. M. Sze, A floating-gate and its application to memory devices, The Bell System Technical Journal, 46, #4 (1967), pp. 1288–1295.
- Electron Devices Society J.J. Ebers Award, web page at the IEEE, accessed 11-I-2007.