Leon Neil Cooper
The Nobel Prize in Physics 1972
Born: 28 February 1930, New York, NY, USA
Affiliation at the time of the award: Brown University, Providence, RI, 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, Leon Cooper, John Bardeen, 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 cancer therapy and laser physics to developing proteins that can solve humankind’s chemical problems. The work of the 2018 Nobel Laureates also included combating war crimes, as well as integrating innovation and climate with economic growth. Find out more.