American physicist who was cowinner of the Nobel Prize for Physics
in both 1956 and 1972. He shared the 1956 prize with William B. Shockley
and Walter H. Brattain for their joint invention of the transistor.
With Leon N. Cooper and John R. Schrieffer he was awarded the 1972 prize
for development of the theory of superconductivity.
After the war Bardeen joined (1945) the Bell Telephone Laboratories in Murray Hill, N.J., where he, Brattain, and Shockley conducted research on the electron-conducting properties of semiconductors. On Dec. 23, 1947, they unveiled the transistor, which ushered in the electronic revolution. The transistor replaced the larger and bulkier vacuum tube and provided the technology for miniaturizing the electronic switches and other components needed in the construction of computers.
In the early 1950s Bardeen resumed research he had begun in the 1930s
on superconductivity, and his Nobel Prize-winning investigations provided
a theoretical explanation of the disappearance of electrical resistance
in materials at temperatures close to absolute zero. The BCS theory
of superconductivity (from the initials of Bardeen, Cooper, and Schrieffer)
was first advanced in 1957 and became the basis for all later theoretical
work in superconductivity. Bardeen was also the author of a theory explaining
certain properties of semiconductors. He served as a professor of electrical
engineering and physics at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign,
from 1951 to 1975.
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