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John Bardeen: Transistor Inventor

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Read on to learn all about John Bardeen, his work, and his life.

Read on to learn all about John Bardeen, his work, and his life.

Who Was John Bardeen?

John Bardeen was an American physicist and electrical engineer who is best known for his invention of the transistor, which is considered one of the most important inventions of the 20th century.

He was born on May 23, 1908 in Madison, Wisconsin and was the eldest of four children. His father, Charles Bardeen, a professor of mechanical engineering at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and Althea Harmer Bardeen. Charles Bardeen was a prominent engineer and inventor, who held several patents for his work on refrigeration.

Charles Bardeen grew up in a scholarly family and was exposed to science and engineering from a young age. He attended Madison East High School and graduated in 1923. He then went on to attend the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where he received his Bachelor of Science degree in electrical engineering in 1928. After graduation, he decided to continue his studies in graduate school, and in 1936, he received his Ph.D. in physics from Princeton University.

During his time at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, he was a member of the Sigma Xi scientific research society and the Tau Beta Pi engineering honour society. He also took part in several research projects and was an assistant in the university's physics department.

After completing his education, Bardeen began working at Bell Labs, where he joined a research team that included William Shockley and Walter Brattain. The team's work on semiconductors and solid-state physics led to the invention of the transistor in 1947. This invention marked a major breakthrough in electronics and paved the way for the development of modern electronic devices, including computers, radios, and televisions.

Twice Nobel Prize Winner

In 1956, Bardeen, Shockley, and Brattain were awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics "for their researches on semiconductors and their discovery of the transistor effect." Bardeen is the only person to have been awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics twice; he won his second Nobel Prize in 1972 for his work on the theory of superconductivity.

Bardeen's Achievements

John Bardeen made many important contributions to the field of physics and electrical engineering throughout his career. Some of his most notable discoveries and achievements include:

  1. The invention of the transistor: In 1947, Bardeen, working with William Shockley and Walter Brattain at Bell Labs, invented the transistor, a three-layer semiconductor device that could amplify electrical signals.
  2. The BCS theory of superconductivity: In 1957, Bardeen, working with Leon Cooper and John Schrieffer, proposed the BCS theory of superconductivity, which explained the mechanism behind the phenomenon of superconductivity. The theory was groundbreaking and remains the foundation of our understanding of superconductivity today.
  3. The theory of electrical conduction in semiconductors: Bardeen made significant contributions to the theory of electrical conduction in semiconductors, which helped to explain the behavior of semiconductors and laid the foundation for the development of electronic devices.
  4. The Nobel Prizes: Bardeen is the only person to have been awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics twice.
  5. The Bardeen Science and Engineering Program: Bardeen established the Bardeen Science and Engineering Program at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, which provides opportunities for underrepresented minorities to pursue careers in science and engineering.
John Bardeen, William Shockley and Walter Brattain at Bell Labs in 1948

John Bardeen, William Shockley and Walter Brattain at Bell Labs in 1948

Bardeen's Publications

Some of John Bardeen's notable publications include:

  1. "Theory of Superconductivity," Physical Review, 1957
  2. "Microscopic Theory of Superconductivity," Physical Review, 1957
  3. "Theory of Superconductivity. II," Physical Review, 1958
  4. "Theory of Superconductivity. III," Physical Review, 1959
  5. "Thermoelectric Power in the Transition Region," Physical Review, 1952
  6. "Theory of Thermoelectricity in Semiconductors," Physical Review, 1953
  7. "Theory of Thermoelectricity in Alloys," Physical Review, 1954

Bardeen's Personal Life

He was married to Jane Maxwell, and the couple had three children. He was known to be a devoted family man who placed great emphasis on his role as a father and husband. He was also described as being a very humble and modest individual who was dedicated to his work and had a strong sense of ethics. He was also known for his dedication to teaching and mentoring young scientists.

He was a professor at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he established the Bardeen Science and Engineering Program, which provides opportunities for underrepresented minorities to pursue careers in science and engineering.

He was not very active in politics or social causes, and he did not have any hobbies or interests that were publicly known. He was known to be a solitary figure who focused on his work and family. He was a very private person, and little is known about his personal life, but it is known that he was a respected member of his community, and had many friends and colleagues in the scientific and engineering communities.

Transistors Explained

Sources and Further Reading

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2023 Mr Singh