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
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.
Their work and discoveries range from paleogenomics and click chemistry to documenting war crimes.
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