Photo from the Nobel Foundation archive.
J. Georg Bednorz
The Nobel Prize in Physics 1987
Born: 16 May 1950, Neuenkirchen, West Germany (now Germany)
Affiliation at the time of the award: IBM Zurich Research Laboratory, Rüschlikon, Switzerland
Prize motivation: "for their important break-through in the discovery of superconductivity in ceramic materials."
Prize share: 1/2
When certain metals are cooled to extremely low temperatures, they become superconductors, conducting electrical current entirely without resistance. However, very low temperatures, just a few degrees above absolute zero, are required for this phenomenon to occur. In 1986 Georg Bednorz and Alex Müller discovered that a material composed of copper oxide with lantanum and barium additives became superconducting at a significantly higher temperature than previously tested materials. This sparked extensive research into similar materials.
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.