John Bardeen

John Bardeen (* May 23, 1908 in Madison, Wisconsin, † January 30, 1991 in Boston ) was an American physicist and two-time Nobel Prize winner in physics. John Bardeen and Frederick Sanger being are the only people who have been twice awarded the Nobel Prize in the same discipline.


John Bardeen was born as the son of the anatomy professor Charles R. Bardeen, who also Dean of the Medical School was the University of Wisconsin in Madison, and the teacher Althea Harmer. His mother died in 1920 when John Bardeen was 12 years old, and his father married Ruth Hames from Milwaukee, Wisconsin. At 15 his studies in electrical engineering, physics and mathematics began the highly intelligent student who skipped several classes at the University of Wisconsin.

Bardeen was awarded the Bachelor of Science degree in 1928 and a Master of Science in Electrical Engineering in 1929. In 1933 he continued his studies in physics and mathematics at Princeton University and in 1935 at Harvard. Here he specialized in quantum theory in the field of solid state physics and received his doctorate in 1936 with a thesis in mathematical physics at Eugene Paul Wigner ( Nobel laureate 1963).

From 1938 to 1941 Bardeen assistant professor at the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. During World War II he worked as a physicist at the U.S. Naval Ordnance Laboratory in Washington, DC

In 1962 he received the Fritz London Memorial Prize and donated the money of his second Nobel Prize, among others, for the doping of this price.

Bell Labs and the development of the transistor

As a physicist at Bell Telephone Laboratories in Murray Hill (New Jersey, 1945-1951 ) he belonged together with the physicists William B. Shockley and Walter Brattain to a workgroup, that this primarily with the electrical conductivity of semiconductors and metals, and the surface properties materials employed. With the help of germanium crystals discovered on 23 December 1947 transistor effect and constructed the first bipolar transistor, a type of transistor, which triggered an electronic revolution by the possibilities of miniaturization and enabled many developments in microelectronics and computer technology.

For this discovery Bardeen was awarded in 1956 with his two colleagues the Nobel Prize for physics.

Illinois and work in the field of superconductivity

In 1951, Bardeen left Bell Telephone Laboratories and worked until 1975 as a professor of electrical engineering and physics at the University of Illinois at Urbana- Champaign. Here was his first doctoral student Nick Holonyak (1954 ), the inventor of the first light emitting diode in 1962 he developed with Leon N. Cooper and John R. Schrieffer together the theory of superconductivity -. Disappearance of the electrical resistance of certain metals and alloys at temperatures in close to the absolute zero point. The theory became known as the BCS theory, named after the initials of the discoverer. Already in the 1930s, Bardeen had researched the phenomenon and arrived in the 1950s to the theoretical explanation. In the Department of Electrical Engineering, he founded a research program to superconductivity. In the Physics Department, he also founded a research program on macroscopic quantum systems, in particular superconductivity and quantum liquids.

In 1972 Bardeen Cooper and Schrieffer, together with his second Nobel Prize in Physics for his fundamental contribution to the theory of superconductivity. Bardeen was the first scientist who received the Nobel Prize twice in the same category.

In 1975 he became Professor Emeritus; he lived until his death in Urbana (Illinois ).

His sons William and James M. Bardeen Bardeen are also well-known physicist.