John Robert Schrieffer
Born: 31 May 1931, Oak Park, IL, USA
Affiliation at the time of the award: University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia, PA, USA
Prize motivation: "for their jointly developed theory of superconductivity, usually called the BCS-theory"
Prize share: 1/3
When certain metals are cooled to extremely low temperatures, they become superconductors, conducting electrical current entirely without resistance. Based on quantum mechanics, Robert Schrieffer, Leon Cooper, and John Bardeen formulated a theory for the phenomenon in 1957. At extremely low temperatures, the interaction between electrons and atoms in the metals' crystalline structure causes the electrons to pair up with one another. As a result, their movement becomes orderly, unlike the random movement at normal temperatures, and electrical resistance disappears.