After graduating from high school in Emsdetten Martinum Bednorz began in 1968 to study chemistry at the Westfälische Wilhelms-Universität Münster. Because he felt lost among the many students and also change the input examinations had failed to chemical introduction internship, he turned to studying mineralogy. His diploma thesis was written under the supervision of Wolfgang Hoffmann in the branch of crystallography on synthetic perovskites.
In the summer of 1972, Bednorz worked as a summer student for the first time at the IBM Zurich Research Laboratory in Rüschlikon. After a second visit in 1973, he came in 1974 for six months in Switzerland in order to make there under the direction of Hans Jörg Scheel, the experiments for his thesis on the characterization and crystal growth of perovskites ( SrTiO3 ). After another year in Münster Bednorz began in 1977 with his PhD at the Laboratory for Solid State Physics at ETH Zurich under the guidance of Heini Gränicher and Karl Alexander Müller.
After he started working at IBM in 1982, he began in 1983, together with Müller his work on high-temperature superconductivity in ceramics from copper oxides, have been awarded for both in 1987 with the Nobel Prize for Physics. In the same year he was appointed to IBM Fellow.
Bednorz is an honorary citizen of Emsdetten.
In addition to the Nobel Prize Bednorz won the following awards:
- Marcel Benoist prize (1986 )
- Minnie Rosen Award ( 1986)
- Victor Moritz Goldschmidt Price ( 1986)
- Klungkung - Wilhelmy Weberbank Award (1987 )
- Fritz London Memorial Prize (1987 )
- Dannie Heineman Prize of the Göttingen Academy of Sciences ( 1987)
- Robert Wichard Pohl Prize ( 1987)
- Hewlett -Packard EUR Physics Prize (1988 )
- APS International Prize for Materials Research (1988 )