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John Bardeen

John BardeenBorn: 23-May-1908
Birthplace: Madison, WI
Died: 30-Jan-1991
Location of death: Boston, MA
Cause of death: Heart Failure
Remains: Buried, Forest Hill Cemetery, Madison, WI

Gender: Male
Religion: Unitarian
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Physicist, Inventor

Nationality: United States
Executive summary: Co-Inventor of the transistor

Though his name is not familiar to most people outside of technical circles, few scientists have matched the accomplishments and impact of American physicist and inventor John Bardeen. He studied under John H. van Vleck and Eugene Wigner, and came to work at Bell Labs in 1945, where in collaboration with Walter H. Brattain and William Shockley he invented the electrical transistor two years later. The transistor, of course, brought the electronics industry into the modern era, led to the development of virtually every electronic device in the modern world, and earned Bardeen, Brattain, and Shockley the Nobel Prize in 1956.

Even as he accepted his Nobel honors in Stockholm, Bardeen had already begun work that would lead to his next major accomplishment, the microscopic theory of superconductivity (increased electrical conductivity in some metals when chilled to temperatures approaching absolute zero). In 1957, with post-doctoral student Leon N. Cooper and graduate student Robert Schrieffer, he developed the first workable scientific elucidation of this phenomenon. Now commonly called the BCS theory (for the trio's last names), it has had profound implications for nearly every discipline of physics, and won its authors the Nobel Prize in 1972. His other students included Nick Holonyak, developer of light-emitting diodes.

He was the only person to win two Nobel Prizes in Physics. He also conducted extensive research in geophysics, the cohesion and conductivity of metals, diffusion of atoms in crystals, mine-sweeping, quasi-one-dimensional metals, radio waves, surface properties of semiconductors.

Father: Charles Russell Bardeen (physician)
Mother: Althea Harmer Bardeen (interior designer, d. 1920)
Mother: Ruth Hames Bardeen McCauley (stepmother)
Wife: Jane Maxwell Bardeen (biologist, m. 1938)
Son: James Maxwell Bardeen (physicist, b. 9-May-1939)
Son: William Allen Bardeen (physicist, b. 15-Sep-1941)
Daughter: Elizabeth Ann Bardeen Greytak ("Betsy")

    High School: Central-University High School, Madison, WI (1923)
    University: BS Electrical Engineering, University of Wisconsin at Madison (1928)
    University: MS Electrical Engineering, University of Wisconsin at Madison (1929)
    University: PhD Mathematical Physics, Princeton University (1936)
    Teacher: Physics, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis (1938-41)
    Scholar: Physics, US Naval Ordnance Laboratory, White Oak, MD (1941-45)
    Professor: Electrical Engineering, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (1951-75)

    Western Electric (Engineering Intern) 1926-27
    Gulf Oil (Geophysicist) 1930-33
    Bell Laboratories (Solid State Research Group) 1945-51
    Franklin Institute Stuart Ballantine Medal 1952 (with Walter H. Brattain)
    John Scott Medal 1955 (with Walter H. Brattain)
    APS Buckley Prize 1955
    Fritz London Memorial Prize 1962
    Vincent Bendix Award 1964
    National Medal of Science 1965
    IEEE Medal of Honor 1971
    Presidential Medal of Freedom 1976
    Nobel Prize for Physics 1956 (with Walter H. Brattain and William Shockley)
    Nobel Prize for Physics 1972 (with Leon N. Cooper and Robert Schrieffer)
    National Inventors Hall of Fame
    Science Advisory Committee 1959-62
    American Physical Society President (1968-69)
    Harvard Society of Fellows
    International Union of Pure and Applied Physics
    National Academy of Sciences 1954
    National Academy of Engineering 1972
    Tau Beta Pi Engineering Honor Society
    Physical Review Editorial Board
    Member of the Board of General Electric
    Member of the Board of Xerox (1961-74)
    Member of the Board of Supertex (1983-91)
    Heart Attack 30-Jan-1991 (fatal)

Appears on postage stamps:
USA, Scott #4227 (41, depicting Bardeen and first transistor, issued 7-Mar-2008)


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