Robert Hofstadter

Robert Hofstadter ( born February 5, 1915 in New York City; † 17 November 1990 Stanford / California ) was an American physicist. He received the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1961, together with Rudolf Mössbauer "for his pioneering work on electron scattering on atomic nuclei and thus gained his discoveries concerning the structure of the atomic nucleus ."

Robert Hofstadter was born in New York, the son of Jewish immigrants from Poland, who had emigrated to the turn of the century in the United States.

1938 doctorate Hofstadter at Princeton University. During the Second World War he worked from gunshot bodies for anti-aircraft defense. In 1946, he came to Princeton University again and worked mainly in the fields of photoconductivity, infrared radiation as well as the crystal and scintillation counters.

Hofstadter taught 1950-1985 at the University of Stanford. To measure and more accurate investigation of the nucleons, so the components of nuclei, it is used there, the scattering of electrons, which have been brought by means of a linear accelerator to energies up to 100 MeV. At that time they had considered protons and neutrons even as structureless, ie indivisible point-like particles. With his experiments Hofstadter could not only show that protons and neutrons are not point-like, but also their size and distribution of electric charge in these particles determine. The results were then interpreted to mean that both have a positively charged nucleus surrounded by a double cloud of pi - mesons. When proton this cloud is neutral, the neutron this cloud is negatively charged. To this end, Robert Hofstadter was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1961.

In addition, Robert Hofstadter is the father of the physicist Douglas R. Hofstadter, who was primarily known for his work Gödel, Escher, Bach.


The fictional character Leonard Hofstadter from the TV series The Big Bang Theory, a gifted physicist, has been named after Robert Hofstadter.


  • Publisher: Electron scattering and nuclear and nucleon structure, Benjamin, 1963 ( Reprint band )