Bertram N. Brockhouse
The Nobel Prize in Physics 1994
Born: 15 July 1918, Lethbridge, Alberta, Canada
Died: 13 October 2003, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Affiliation at the time of the award: McMaster University, Hamilton, Ontario, Canada
Prize motivation: “for the development of neutron spectroscopy”
Prize share: 1/2
Atomic nuclei are composed of protons and neutrons. Bertram Brockhouse and Clifford Shull developed methods for investigating different materials with beams of neutrons created in a nuclear reactor. When neutron beams come in contact with a material, some of the neutron’s energy is converted into vibrations. The vibrations, known as phonons, correspond to fixed energy levels that form a spectrum. During the 1950s Bertram Brockhouse developed methods for using these spectrums to chart properties of different molecules and materials.