JOHN BARDEEN (/bɑːrˈdiːn/ ; May 23, 1908 – January 30, 1991)
was an American physicist and electrical engineer , the only person to
have won the Nobel Prize in
Physics twice: first in 1956 with William
Walter Brattain for the invention of the transistor ; and
again in 1972 with
Leon N Cooper and
John Robert Schrieffer for a
fundamental theory of conventional superconductivity known as the BCS
The transistor revolutionized the electronics industry, allowing the
Information Age to occur, and made possible the development of almost
every modern electronic device, from telephones to computers to
missiles . Bardeen's developments in superconductivity, which won him
his second Nobel, are used in
Nuclear Magnetic Resonance
Nuclear Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy
(NMR) or its medical sub-tool magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).
John Bardeen appeared on LIFE Magazine 's list of "100 Most
Influential Americans of the Century."
* 1 Education and early life
* 2 Career and research
* 2.2 The invention of the transistor
University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign
* 2.4 The Nobel Prize in
Physics in 1956
* 2.6 The Nobel Prize in
Physics in 1972
* 2.7 Other awards
* 3 Personal life
* 3.1 Death
* 3.2 Legacy
* 4 References
* 5 External links
EDUCATION AND EARLY LIFE
John Bardeen was born in
Madison, Wisconsin , on May 23, 1908. He
was the son of
Charles Russell Bardeen , the first dean of the
University of Wisconsin Medical School.
Bardeen attended the University High School at Madison for several
years, but graduated from Madison Central High School in 1923. He
graduated from high school at age fifteen, even though he could have
graduated several years earlier. His graduation was postponed due to
taking additional courses at another high school and also partly
because of his mother's death. He entered the University of
Wisconsin–Madison in 1923. While in college he joined the Zeta Psi
fraternity. He raised the needed membership fees partly by playing
billiards. He was initiated as a member of
Tau Beta Pi
Tau Beta Pi engineering
honor society. He chose engineering because he did not want to be an
academic like his father and also because it is mathematical. He also
felt that engineering had good job prospects.
Bardeen received his
Bachelor of Science
Bachelor of Science degree in electrical
engineering in 1928 from the University of Wisconsin–Madison. He
graduated in 1928 despite taking a year off during his degree to work
in Chicago. He had taken all the graduate courses in physics and
mathematics that had interested him, and, in fact, graduated in five
years, one more than usual; this allowed him time to also complete a
Master's thesis, supervised by Leo J. Peters. He received his Master
of Science degree in electrical engineering in 1929 from Wisconsin.
Bardeen stayed on for some time at Wisconsin furthering his studies,
but he eventually went to work for Gulf Research Laboratories , the
research arm of the
Gulf Oil Corporation, based in
Pittsburgh . From
1930 to 1933, Bardeen worked there on the development of methods for
the interpretation of magnetic and gravitational surveys. He worked
as a geophysicist. After the work failed to keep his interest, he
applied and was accepted to the graduate program in mathematics at
Princeton University .
Bardeen studied both mathematics and physics as a graduate student,
ending up writing his thesis on a problem in solid-state physics ,
Eugene Wigner . Before completing his thesis, he was
offered a position as Junior Fellow of the Society of Fellows at
Harvard University in 1935. He spent the next three years there, from
1935 to 1938, working with to-be Nobel laureates in physics John
Hasbrouck van Vleck and
Percy Williams Bridgman on problems in
cohesion and electrical conduction in metals, and also did some work
on level density of nuclei. He received his Ph.D. in mathematical
physics from Princeton in 1936.
CAREER AND RESEARCH
William Shockley and
Walter Brattain at Bell Labs,
In October 1945, Bardeen began work at
Bell Labs . He was a member of
a solid-state physics group, led by
William Shockley and chemist
Stanley Morgan. Other personnel working in the group were Walter
Brattain , physicist
Gerald Pearson , chemist Robert Gibney,
electronics expert Hilbert Moore and several technicians. He moved his
Summit, New Jersey .
The assignment of the group was to seek a solid-state alternative to
fragile glass vacuum tube amplifiers. Their first attempts were based
on Shockley's ideas about using an external electrical field on a
semiconductor to affect its conductivity. These experiments
mysteriously failed every time in all sorts of configurations and
materials. The group was at a standstill until Bardeen suggested a
theory that invoked surface states that prevented the field from
penetrating the semiconductor. The group changed its focus to study
these surface states, and they met almost daily to discuss the work.
The rapport of the group was excellent, and ideas were freely
exchanged. By the winter of 1946 they had enough results that Bardeen
submitted a paper on the surface states to
Physical Review . Brattain
started experiments to study the surface states through observations
made while shining a bright light on the semiconductor's surface. This
led to several more papers (one of them co-authored with Shockley),
which estimated the density of the surface states to be more than
enough to account for their failed experiments. The pace of the work
picked up significantly when they started to surround point contacts
between the semiconductor and the conducting wires with electrolytes .
Moore built a circuit that allowed them to vary the frequency of the
input signal easily and suggested that they use glycol borate (gu), a
viscous chemical that didn't evaporate. Finally they began to get some
evidence of power amplification when Pearson, acting on a suggestion
by Shockley, put a voltage on a droplet of gu placed across a P-N
THE INVENTION OF THE TRANSISTOR
History of the transistor A
stylized replica of the first transistor invented at
Bell Labs on
December 23, 1947
On December 23, 1947, Bardeen and Brattain—working without
Shockley—succeeded in creating a point-contact transistor that
achieved amplification. By the next month,
Bell Labs ' patent
attorneys started to work on the patent applications.
Bell Labs' attorneys soon discovered that Shockley's field effect
principle had been anticipated and patented in 1930 by Julius
Lilienfeld , who filed his
MESFET -like patent in Canada on October
Shockley took the lion's share of the credit in public for the
invention of transistor, which led to a deterioration of Bardeen's
relationship with Shockley.
Bell Labs management, however,
consistently presented all three inventors as a team. Shockley
eventually infuriated and alienated Bardeen and Brattain, and he
essentially blocked the two from working on the junction transistor.
Bardeen began pursuing a theory for superconductivity and left Bell
Labs in 1951. Brattain refused to work with Shockley further and was
assigned to another group. Neither Bardeen nor Brattain had much to do
with the development of the transistor beyond the first year after its
The "transistor" (a combination of "transconductance" and "resistor")
was 1/50 as large as the vacuum tubes it replaced in televisions and
radios and allowed electrical devices to become more compact.
UNIVERSITY OF ILLINOIS AT URBANA–CHAMPAIGN
A commemorative plaque remembering
John Bardeen and the theory
of superconductivity, at the University of Illinois at
By 1951, Bardeen was looking for a new job. Fred Seitz, a friend of
Bardeen, convinced the
University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign to
make Bardeen an offer of $10,000 a year. Bardeen accepted the offer
and left Bell Labs. He joined the engineering faculty and the physics
faculty at the
University of Illinois at Urbana–Champaign in 1951.
He was Professor of Electrical Engineering and of
Physics at Illinois.
His first Ph.D. student was
Nick Holonyak (1954), the inventor of the
LED in 1962.
At Illinois, he established two major research programs, one in the
Electrical Engineering Department and one in the
The research program in the Electrical Engineering Department dealt
with both experimental and theoretical aspects of semiconductors, and
the research program in the
Physics Department dealt with theoretical
aspects of macroscopic quantum systems, particularly superconductivity
and quantum liquids.
He was an active professor at Illinois from 1951 to 1975 and then
became Professor Emeritus. In his later life, Bardeen remained active
in academic research, during which time he focused on understanding
the flow of electrons in charge density waves (CDWs) through metallic
linear chain compounds. His proposals that CDW electron transport
is a collective quantum phenomenon (see Macroscopic quantum phenomena
) were initially greeted with skepticism. However, experiments
reported in 2012 show oscillations in CDW current versus magnetic
flux through tantalum trisulfide rings, similar to the behavior of
superconducting quantum interference devices (see
Aharonov–Bohm effect ), lending credence to the idea that collective
CDW electron transport is fundamentally quantum in nature. (See
quantum mechanics .) Bardeen continued his research throughout the
1980s, and published articles in
Physical Review Letters and Physics
Today less than a year before he died.
THE NOBEL PRIZE IN PHYSICS IN 1956
John Bardeen shared the Nobel Prize in
Physics with William
Shockley of Semiconductor Laboratory of Beckman Instruments and Walter
Bell Telephone Laboratories "for their researches on
semiconductors and their discovery of the transistor effect".
At the Nobel Prize ceremony in
Stockholm , Brattain and Shockley
received their awards that night from King Gustaf VI Adolf . Bardeen
brought only one of his three children to the Nobel Prize ceremony.
King Gustav chided Bardeen because of this, and Bardeen assured the
King that the next time he would bring all his children to the
ceremony. He kept his promise.
In 1957, Bardeen, in collaboration with
Leon Cooper and his doctoral
John Robert Schrieffer , proposed the standard theory of
superconductivity known as the
BCS theory (named for their initials).
THE NOBEL PRIZE IN PHYSICS IN 1972
In 1972, Bardeen shared the Nobel Prize in
Physics with Leon N Cooper
Brown University and
John Robert Schrieffer of the University of
Pennsylvania "for their jointly developed theory of superconductivity,
usually called the BCS-theory".
Bardeen did bring all his children to the Nobel Prize ceremony in
This was Bardeen's second Nobel Prize in Physics. He became the first
person to win two Nobel Prizes in the same field. Only five others
have ever received more than one Nobel Prize.
Bardeen gave much of his Nobel Prize money to fund the Fritz London
Memorial Lectures at
Duke University .
In addition to winning the Nobel prize twice, Bardeen won numerous
Franklin Institute 's
Stuart Ballantine Medal .
* 1959 elected a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences
National Medal of Science .
IEEE Medal of Honor for "his profound contributions to the
understanding of the conductivity of solids, to the invention of the
transistor, and to the microscopic theory of superconductivity."
* Elected a Foreign Member of the
Royal Society (ForMemRS) in 1973 .
Franklin Medal .
* On January 10, 1977,
John Bardeen was presented with the
Presidential Medal of Freedom
Presidential Medal of Freedom by President
Gerald Ford . He was
represented at the ceremony by his son, William Bardeen.
* Bardeen was one of 11 recipients given the Third Century Award
George H. W. Bush in 1990 for "exceptional
contributions to American society" and was granted a gold medal from
Soviet Academy of Sciences in 1988.
Bardeen was also an important adviser to
Xerox Corporation . Though
quiet by nature, he took the uncharacteristic step of urging Xerox
executives to keep their California research center,
Xerox PARC ,
afloat when the parent company was suspicious that its research center
would amount to little.
Bardeen married Jane Maxwell on July 18, 1938. While at Princeton, he
met Jane during a visit to his old friends in
Bardeen was a man with a very unassuming personality. While he served
as a professor for almost 40 years at the University of Illinois, he
was best remembered by neighbors for hosting cookouts where he would
cook for his friends, many of whom were unaware of his accomplishments
at the university. He would always ask his guests if they liked the
hamburger bun toasted (since he liked his that way). He enjoyed
playing golf and going on picnics with his family. Lillian Hoddeson, a
University of Illinois historian who wrote a book on Bardeen, said
that because he "differed radically from the popular stereotype of
'genius' and was uninterested in appearing other than ordinary, the
public and the media often overlooked him."
When asked about his beliefs in an interview in 1988, Bardeen
responded: "I am not a religious person, and so do not think about it
very much". However, he has also said: "I feel that science cannot
provide an answer to the ultimate questions about the meaning and
purpose of life." Bardeen did believe in a code of moral values and
behaviour. John Bardeen's children were taken to church by his wife,
who taught Sunday school and was a church elder. Despite this, he and
his wife made it clear that they did not have faith in an afterlife
and other religious ideas.
Bardeen died of heart disease at Brigham and Women\'s Hospital in
Massachusetts , on January 30, 1991. Although he lived in
Champaign-Urbana , he had come to
Boston for medical consultation.
Bardeen and his wife Jane (1907–1997) are buried in Forest Hill
Cemetery , Madison, Wisconsin. They were survived by three children,
James and William and Elizabeth Bardeen Greytak, and six
Near the end of this decade, when they begin enumerating the names
of the people who had the greatest impact on the 20th century, the
name of John Bardeen, who died last week, has to be near, or perhaps
even arguably at, the top of the list... Mr. Bardeen shared two Nobel
Prizes and won numerous other honors. But what greater honor can there
be when each of us can look all around us and everywhere see the
reminders of a man whose genius has made our lives longer, healthier
Chicago Tribune editorial, February 3, 1991
In honor of Professor Bardeen, the engineering quadrangle at the
University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is named the Bardeen Quad.
Also in honor of Bardeen,
Sony Corporation endowed a $3 million John
Bardeen professorial chair at the University of Illinois at
Urbana-Champaign, beginning in 1990. The current John Bardeen
Nick Holonyak , Bardeen's first doctoral student and
At the time of Bardeen's death, then-University of Illinois
chancellor Morton Weir said, "It is a rare person whose work changes
the life of every American; John's did."
Bardeen was honored on a March 6, 2008, United States postage stamp
as part of the "American Scientists" series designed by artist Victor
Stabin . The $0.41 stamp was unveiled in a ceremony at the University
of Illinois. His citation reads: "Theoretical physicist John Bardeen
(1908–1991) shared the Nobel Prize in
Physics twice — in 1956, as
co-inventor of the transistor and in 1972, for the explanation of
superconductivity. The transistor paved the way for all modern
electronics, from computers to microchips. Diverse applications of
superconductivity include infrared sensors and medical imaging
systems." The other scientists on the "American Scientists" sheet
Gerty Cori , chemist
Linus Pauling and astronomer
Edwin Hubble .
* ^ A B C D E
John Bardeen at the
Mathematics Genealogy Project
* ^ A B C "Nice Guys Can Finish As Geniuses at University of
Illinois in Urbana-Champaign.". Chicago Tribune: Knight Ridder News
Service. 2003-01-25. Retrieved 2007-08-03.
* ^ A B Bardeen Biography from the Nobel Foundation
* ^ A B C Pippard, B. (1994). "John Bardeen. 23 May 1908–30
Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society .
39: 20–34. doi :10.1098/rsbm.1994.0002 .
* ^ "Elizabeth Greytak, Systems Analyst". Boston: The
. 2000-12-25. Retrieved 2014-12-27.
* ^ Hoddeson, Lillian and Vicki Daitch. True Genius: the Life and
Science of John Bardeen. National Academy Press, 2002. ISBN
* ^ A B C D E F G "John Bardeen, Nobelist, Inventor of Transistor,
Dies". Washington Post. 1991-01-31. Retrieved 2007-08-03.
* ^ A B C D "Biography of John Bardeen". The Nobel Foundation.
* ^ A B "Biography of
John Bardeen 1". PBS. Retrieved 2007-12-24.
* ^ A B "Curriculum Vitae of John Bardeen". The Nobel Foundation.
* ^ David Pines (2003-05-01). "John Bardeen: genius in action".
physicsworld.com. Archived from the original on 2007-10-20. Retrieved
* ^ Hoddeson, Lillian and Daitch, Vicki. "True Genius: The Life and
Science of John Bardeen", p. 117. "Soon, however, life in Summit would
become easy and rich for the Bardeens."
* ^ Brattain quoted in Crystal Fire p. 127
* ^ Crystal Fire p. 132
* ^ A B "Biography of
John Bardeen 2". PBS. Retrieved 2007-12-24.
* ^ US 1745175 "Method and apparatus for controlling electric
current" first filing in Canada on 22.10.1925
* ^ Diane Kormos Buchwald. American Scientist 91.2 (Mar.-Apr.
* ^ Crystal Fire p. 278
* ^ "Biography at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign".
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Archived from the
original on 2007-10-11. Retrieved 2007-11-06.
* ^ Bardeen, John (1979). "Theory of non-ohmic conduction from
charge-density waves in NbSe3".
Physical Review Letters. 42 (22):
Bibcode :1979PhRvL..42.1498B. doi
:10.1103/PhysRevLett.42.1498 . Archived from the original on
* ^ Bardeen, John (1980). "Tunneling theory of charge-density-wave
Physical Review Letters. 45 (24): 1978–1980. Bibcode
:1980PhRvL..45.1978B. doi :10.1103/PhysRevLett.45.1978 . Archived from
the original on 2013-04-14.
* ^ J. H. Miller, Jr.; J. Richard; J. R. Tucker; John Bardeen
(1983). "Evidence for tunneling of charge-density waves in TaS3".
Physical Review Letters. 51 (17): 1592–1595. Bibcode
:1983PhRvL..51.1592M. doi :10.1103/PhysRevLett.51.1592 . Archived from
the original on 2013-04-14.
* ^ Pines, David (2009). "Biographical Memoirs: John Bardeen"
(PDF). Proceedings of the American Philosophical Society. 153 (3):
287–321. Archived from the original (PDF) on 24 May 2013.
* ^ M. Tsubota; K. Inagaki; T. Matsuura; S. Tanda (2012).
"Aharonov-Bohm effect in charge-density wave loops with inherent
temporal current switching". EPL (Europhysics Letters). 97 (5): 57011.
Bibcode :2012EL.....9757011T. arXiv :0906.5206 . doi
* ^ J. H. Miller, Jr.; A.I. Wijesinghe; Z. Tang; A.M. Guloy (2012).
"Correlated quantum transport of density wave electrons". Physical
Review Letters. 108 (3): 036404.
Bibcode :2012PhRvL.108c6404M. PMID
22400766 . arXiv :1109.4619 . doi :10.1103/PhysRevLett.108.036404 .
* ^ J.H. Miller, Jr.; A.I. Wijesinghe; Z. Tang; A.M. Guloy.
"Coherent quantum transport of charge density waves". arXiv :1212.3020
* ^ Bardeen, John (1990). "Theory of size effects in depinning of
Physical Review Letters. 64 (19): 2297–2299.
Bibcode :1990PhRvL..64.2297B. PMID 10041638 . doi
:10.1103/PhysRevLett.64.2297 . Archived from the original on
* ^ Bardeen, John (1990). "
Superconductivity and other macroscopic
Physics Today. 43 (12): 25–31. Bibcode
:1990PhT....43l..25B. doi :10.1063/1.881218 .
* ^ "The Nobel Prize in
Physics in 1956". The Nobel Foundation.
* ^ A B "Biography of
John Bardeen 3". PBS. Retrieved 2007-12-24.
* ^ "The Nobel Prize in
Physics in 1972". The Nobel Foundation.
* ^ A B "
Physicist John Bardeen, 82, transistor pioneer, Nobelist".
Chicago Sun-Times. 1991-01-31. Retrieved 2007-08-03.
* ^ cf.
List of Nobel laureates#Laureates
* ^ "
Fritz London Memorial Prize". Duke University. Retrieved
* ^ "Book of Members, 1780–2010: Chapter B" (PDF). American
Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 15 April 2011.
* ^ "The President\'s National Medal of Science: Recipient Details
– US National Science Foundation (NSF)". nsf.gov. Retrieved
* ^ "Fellowship of the
Royal Society 1660–2015". London: Royal
Society . Archived from the original on 2015-07-15.
* ^ Hoddeson, Lillian; Daitch, Vicki (2002). True Genius: The Life
and Science of John Bardeen. Joseph Henry Press. ISBN 9780309169547 .
John's mother, Althea, had been reared in the Quaker tradition, and
his stepmother, Ruth, was Catholic, but John was resolutely secular
throughout his life. He was once "taken by surprise" when an
interviewer asked him a question about religion. "I am not a religious
person," he said, "and so do not think about it very much." He went on
in a rare elaboration of his personal beliefs. "I feel that science
cannot provide an answer to the ultimate questions about the meaning
and purpose of life. With religion, one can get answers on faith. Most
scientists leave them open and perhaps unanswerable, but do abide by a
code of moral values. For civilized society to succeed, there must be
a common consensus on moral values and moral behaviour, with due
regard to the welfare of our fellow man. There are likely many sets of
moral values compatible with successful civilized society. It is when
they conflict that difficulties arise."
* ^ Daitch & Hoddeson (2002). True Genius:: The Life and Science of
John Bardeen. Joseph Henry Press, pp. 168–169.
* ^ Vicki Daitch,
Lillian Hoddeson (2002). "Last Journey". True
Genius:: The Life and Science of John Bardeen. Joseph Henry Press. p.
313. ISBN 9780309169547 . Every time we attend a funeral service,"
Jane had once told her sister Betty, "we decide again that we want no
such ceremony when we die." She and John agreed that the family could,
if they wanted to, have a memorial service conducted by friends and
family, "but not a sermon by a stranger, who, if a minister, is bound
to dwell on life after death and other religious ideas in which we
have no faith.
* ^ A B
John Noble Wilford (January 31, 1991). "Dr. John Bardeen,
82, Winner Of Nobel Prize for Transistor, Dies".
New York Times
New York Times .
Retrieved 2014-02-25. John Bardeen, a co-inventor of the transistor
that led to modern electronics and twice a winner of the Nobel Prize
in Physics, died yesterday at
Brigham and Women's Hospital in Boston.
He was 82 years old. ...
* ^ https://www.flickr.com/photos/centralhistorian/383446449/,
* ^ "Bardeen Stamp Celebrated at Campus Ceremony". University of
Illinois. Retrieved 2008-03-04.
* Biography portal
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