John Bardeen

John Bardeen

John Bardeen was an eminent American physicist, who won the Nobel Prize twice. In 1956, with fellow scientists William B. Shockley and Walter H. Brattainhe, Bardeen shared the award for the invention of the transistor. He received the award for the second time in 1972, with Leon N. Cooper and John R. Schrieffer, for formulating the theory of superconductivity. Bardeen thus revolutionized the fields of electronics and magnetic resonance imaging.


Early Life and Education:

Born in Madison, Wisconsin in 1908, John Bardeen’s father was a Professor of Anatomy and the first Dean of the Medical School at the University of Wisconsin. He acquired a BS degree in electrical engineering from the same university in 1928, and after one year, his MS degree in 1929.

Following a few years of research work in geophysics, Bardeen took another degree in mathematical physics from Princeton University, receiving a Ph.D. in 1936.

Contributions and Achievements:

After years of research work at the universities of Minnesota and Harvard, in addition to the Naval Ordonnance Lab in Washington DC, John Bardeen finally joined the solid state physics group at Bell Labs in New Jersey in 1945. He developed an interest in semiconductor research and collaborated with Brattain and Shockley to discover the transistor effect in semiconductors in 1947. His efforts laid the foundation for the modern age of electronics and computers.

Bardeen left Bell Labs and accepted a teaching position at University of Illinois in 1951. At this place, he worked with with Cooper and Schrieffer to formulate the first successful microscopic theory of superconductivity, which was later termed as the BCS theory. Bardeen was awarded the Nobel Prize twice for his efforts, and he remains the only person in history to have two prizes in the same domain.

He revolutionized the fields of electrical engineering and solid slate physics. The transistor is often recognized as the most influential invention of the twentieth century.

Later Life and Death:

Bardeen died of heart disease on January 30, 1991 in Boston, Massachusetts, where he had come to Brigham and Women’s Hospital for medical treatment. He was buried in Forest Hill Cemetery. John Bardeen was named by Life Magazine among the 100 most influential people of the twentieth century.