John Bardeen

National Medal of Science

Physical Sciences

For his brilliant contributions to the theory of electrical conductivity in solid materials, and especially those which led to the development of a successful theory of superconductivity.

For his brilliant contributions to the theory of electrical conductivity in solid materials, and especially those which led to the development of a successful theory of superconductivity.

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Birth
May 23, 1908
Age Awarded
57
Country of Birth
USA
Key Contributions
Solid State Transistor
Awarded by
Lyndon Baines Johnson
Education
University of Wisconsin
Areas of Impact
Communication & Information
Affiliations
University of Illinois
Other Prizes
Nobel Prize
National Inventors Hall of Fame
J

John Bardeen nearly missed the champagne toast for his second Nobel Prize due to a malfunctioning version of his first award-winning invention.

His electronic garage door wouldn’t open.

Bardeen, the only person to win the Nobel Prize in physics twice, is part of the Bell Labs team that invented the transistor.

The device – named after the words “transfer” and “resistor” – regulates the flow of electric current, making our computers and digital communications possible.

Despite the significance of this achievement, Bardeen considered the theory of superconductivity his greatest scientific contribution.

Superconductivity, typically occurring at low temperatures, is a phenomenon that allows electricity to travel through a material with little to no resistance.

It took nearly two decades to make the discovery, which is used today in MRIs and a variety of other medical diagnostic equipment.

“I’d say you’ve got to believe in persistence,” Bardeen told friends. “It sometimes pays off.”

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