John Bardeen

Facts

John Bardeen

Photo from the Nobel Foundation archive.

John Bardeen
The Nobel Prize in Physics 1972

Born: 23 May 1908, Madison, WI, USA

Died: 30 January 1991, Boston, MA, USA

Affiliation at the time of the award: University of Illinois, Urbana, IL, USA

Prize motivation: “for their jointly developed theory of superconductivity, usually called the BCS-theory”

Prize share: 1/3

Also awarded: The Nobel Prize in Physics 1956

Work

When certain metals are cooled to extremely low temperatures, they become superconductors, conducting electrical current entirely without resistance. Based on quantum mechanics, John Bardeen, Leon Cooper, and Robert Schrieffer 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.

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