JOHN BARDEEN: DOUBLE
NOBEL LAUREATE SCIENTIST 1908-1991
John Bardeen was born in Madison, Wisconsin on May 23,
1908. His father, Charles Russell Bardeen, was the first
graduate of the Johns Hopkins Medical School and founder
of the Medical School at the University of Wisconsin.
His mother, Althea Harmer, studied oriental art at the
Pratt Institute and practiced interior design in Chicago.
He was one of five children.
John received his elementary and secondary education in
Madison. He studied electrical engineering at the University
of Wisconsin, receiving a B.S. in 1928 and an M.S. in
1929. The three years 1930-33 were spent doing research
in geophysics at the Gulf Research Laboratories in Pittsburgh,
Pennsylvania. In 1933, he returned to graduate studies
in mathematical physics at Princeton University, where
he had his first introduction to solid state theory from
Professor E. P. Wigner, and received his Ph.D. in 1936.
The three years, 1935-38, were spent as a Junior Fellow
of the Society of Fellows of Harvard University, where
he worked with Professors J. H. Van Vleck and P. W. Bridgeman.
From 1938-41, he was an assistant professor at the University
of Minnesota and from 1941-45, at the Naval Ordnance Laboratory
in Washington, DC. In the fall of 1945, he joined the
newly formed research group in solid state physics at
the Bell Telephone Laboratories, Murray Hill, New Jersey.
It was there that he became interested in semiconductors
and with W.H. Brattain discovered the transistor effect
in late 1947. He left Bell Labs in 1951 to become Professor
of Electrical Engineering and of Physics at the University
of Illinois, Urbana, where he was Professor and Emeritus
At Illinois Bardeen established two major research programs,
one in the electrical engineering department, dealing
with both experimental and theoretical aspects of semiconductors
and one in the Physics Department, which dealt with theoretical
aspects of macroscopic quantum systems, particularly superconductivity
and quantum liquids. The microscopic theory of superconductivity,
developed in collaboration with L. N. Cooper and J. R.
Schrieffer in 1956 and 1957, has had profound implications
for nearly every field of physics from elementary particles
to nuclear and from helium liquids to neutron stars. During
his sixty year scientific career, he made significant
contributions to almost every aspect of condensed matter
physics from his early work on the electronic behavior
of metals, the surface properties of semiconductors, and
the theory of diffusion of atoms in crystals, to his most
recent work on quasi-one-dimensional metals. In his eighty-third
year, he continued to publish original scientific papers.
this period, Bardeen maintained active interests in engineering
and technology. He began consulting for Xerox Corporation
in 1951, when it was still called Haloid and the research
department was located in a frame house in Rochester,
New York. He worked with Xerox throughout their spectacular
development, and later served on the Xerox Board of Directors.
He also consulted with General Electric Corporation for
many years and with several other technology firms.
He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in
1954 and the National Academy of Engineering in 1972.
He served on the U.S. President's Science Advisory Committee
from 1959 to 1962 and on the White House Science Council
in 1981-82. From 1961-1974 he was a member of the Board
of Directors of Xerox Corporation and was a member of
the Board of Supertex, Inc. from 1983 to 1991.
He shared the 1956 Nobel Prize for Physics with W. H.
Brattain and W. Shockley for research leading to the invention
of the transistor and the 1972 Nobel Prize with L. N.
Cooper and J. R. Schrieffer for the theory of superconductivity.
He received the distinguished Lomonosov Award of the Soviet
Academy of Sciences in 1987. In 1990, Bardeen was one
of 11 recipients of the Third Century Award honoring exceptional
contributions to American creativity. He was also named
by Life Magazine as one of the 100 most influential people
of the century.
Other achievements include a hole-in-one in a golf tournament
held at the Champaign Country Club.