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Recent In Memoriam (Obituaries)

Alvin Tollestrup

March 22, 1924 to February 9, 2020
Alvin Tollestrup 2018

February 25, 2020 (PO71).  Award-winning engineer and physicist Alvin Tollestrup, who played an instrumental role in developing the Tevatron as the world’s leading high-energy physics accelerator at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory and founding member of the Collider Detector at Fermilab collaboration, died on Feb. 9 of cancer. He was 95.

Tollestrup led the pioneering work of designing and testing 1,000 superconducting magnets used in the Tevatron, which operated from 1983 until 2011 and for 25 years was the world’s most powerful particle collider. This was the first large-scale application of superconductivity worldwide.

“Alvin’s impact on the laboratory and on high-energy physics was just exceptional, and the development of technology with regard to the superconducting magnets had a tremendous impact on accelerators,” said Fermilab senior scientist emeritus Herman White. “All who knew him, socially and professionally, found him to be engaging, thoughtful and someone with a long, important history of working in the research community and here at Fermilab.”

The Tevatron led to the discovery of two fundamental particles — the top quark and the tau neutrino. The top quark, discovered in 1995, was the last undiscovered particle of the six-member quark family that explains the composition of protons, neutrons and other particles. Scientists worldwide had sought the top quark since the discovery of the bottom quark at Fermilab in 1977. The discovery of the tau neutrino with the Tevatron accelerator followed in 2000.

Tollestrup was born March 22, 1924, in Los Angeles, California. He received his bachelor’s degree in engineering from the University of Utah in 1944. After service in the U.S. Navy, he entered graduate school at the California Institute of Technology, where he earned his Ph.D. in physics in 1950. His doctoral adviser was William A. Fowler, who shared the 1983 Nobel Prize in physics. Tollestrup then took a position at Caltech to build the electron synchrotron, a type of particle accelerator. At the time it was the highest-energy synchrotron in the world, starting at 500 million electronvolts, or MeV, finally reaching 1,300 MeV.

He joined the Caltech faculty as an assistant professor of physics in 1953. While on sabbatical at CERN, the European particle physics laboratory, from 1957-58, he helped plan and execute the first experiments on the lab’s 600-MeV cyclotron particle accelerator. The work led to the first observations of the electron decay mode of the pion (a subatomic particle consisting of up and down quarks and antiquarks). He became an associate professor at Caltech in 1958 and a full professor in 1962.

Tollestrup arrived at Fermilab in July 1975 on another sabbatical, intending to stay only six months. He ended up stretching the sabbatical to two years, during which time he worked on superconducting accelerator technology.

He joined the Fermilab staff following his sabbatical and in 1978 became head of the newly created Collider Detector Facility. He later became a founding member of the CDF collaboration, serving as its co-spokesperson from its inception in 1983 until 1992. He was instrumental in organizing the CDF collaboration, which initially consisted of 13 institutions and 87 physicists from the United States, Italy and Japan. His recruiting strategy included producing an “Uncle Alvin Wants You!” poster (see page 5).

During the 1990s Tollestrup also became a founding member of the Neutrino Factory and Muon Collider collaboration, which today is known as the Muon Accelerator Program. MAP is devoted to developing and testing the demanding technologies and innovative concepts needed to discover and explore exciting new regions of fundamental physics.

In 2009, along with Florida State University’s David Larbalestier, Tollestrup successfully launched and led the Very High Field Superconducting Magnet Collaboration. Its purpose was to study the applications of high-temperature superconductors to accelerator superconducting magnets.

After only two years and $4 million in funding, the collaboration significantly increased the current density of a bismuth-based superconducting material that would be needed for the potential next-generation of accelerators and new cutting-edge technologies for applications in industry and medicine.

The 1989 National Medal of Technology recipients, from left: Richard A. Lundy, J. Ritchie Orr, Helen T. Edwards, Alvin V. Tollestrup. Photo: Janine TollestrupTollestrup received many honors during his career, including the National Medal of Technology — the nation’s highest honor for technological achievement — and election to the National Academy of Sciences. Tollestrup received the Robert R. Wilson Prize of the American Physical Society for Achievement in the Physics of Particle Accelerators in recognition of his contributions to the development of the Tevatron’s superconducting magnets. Other honors include Caltech’s Distinguished Alumni Award and the 2011 IEEE Award for Continuing and Significant Contributions in the Field of Applied Superconductivity from the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers Council on Superconductivity for significant and sustained contributions in the field of large-scale applications of superconductivity.

Well-known for nurturing students and young scientists, he also is the namesake of the Tollestrup Award for Postdoctoral Research, which the Universities Research Association Inc. has presented annually since 2003. The award recognizes outstanding work conducted by a postdoctoral researcher at Fermilab or in collaboration with Fermilab scientists.

“While the research community is well aware of Alvin’s scientific contributions, I think one of the greatest legacies he leaves is his devotion to nurturing young people in the field,” said Brookhaven National Laboratory scientist Mark Palmer, who worked with Tollestrup in the Muon Accelerator Program. “Numerous young researchers were beneficiaries of his patience and incisive approach to problem-solving as he mentored them.”

Photographed - The 1989 National Medal of Technology recipients, from left: Richard A. Lundy, J. Ritchie Orr, Helen T. Edwards, Alvin V. Tollestrup. (Photo credit: Janine Tollestrup)


Archie MacRobert Campbell

May 3, 1940 to November 21, 2019
Photo circa 2018
December 02, 2019 (PO70).  It is with great sadness that we inform the scientific and cryogenic communities that Professor Archie Campbell died on Thursday, 21 November 2019. Archie passed away peacefully at home after a short illness. He is survived by his wife, Anne, his children Frances, Emily, and Diarmid, and his eight grandchildren.
Archie was appointed a University Lecturer in the Department of Engineering in 1974 and was a Professor of Electromagnetism at the University of Cambridge, also serving the University as Pro-Proctor from 1985 to 1986, and then Proctor from 1986 to 1987. He had been a Fellow of Christ’s College since 1966 and celebrated 50 years in this role three years ago. 
Archie had a long and distinguished career in his field, spanning over 40 years.  He pioneered the so-called "Campbell technique" for investigating the penetration of flux in bulk superconductors and, together with late Prof. Jan Evetts, authored in 1972 the subject-defining monograph “Flux pinning in Type II superconductors” (Adv. Phys. 21, 199, 1972).  Upon his retirement from the Department of Engineering in September 2007, the ‘Campbell Conference’ was held to recognize his significant contributions to studies of flux pinning in Type II superconductors, ac losses, and understanding of the critical state in superconducting materials. Archie remained an active member of the Cambridge Bulk Superconductivity Research Group and the Department of Engineering following his retirement and continued to play a key role in the development and understanding of applied superconductivity right up to his death. He was a much-loved and highly regarded colleague and collaborator, and his loss will be felt by the entire international superconductivity community.

David Cardwell
Archie Campbell was one of the few exceptionally knowledgeable and globally respected colleagues in the field of applied superconductivity with deep insight in all aspects of flux pinning in superconductors, low Tc as well as high Tc. My memory goes back to our first encounter during the 11th International Conference on Low Temperature Physics, St. Andrews, 1968, and continues with our International Discussion Meeting on Flux Pinning in Superconductors in 1974 (Sonnenberg, Germany), followed thereafter by a larger number of joint Europe-Japan-US workshops. Archie always contributed creative, often unconventional and novel ideas to these discussion workshops. Now, after his passing, he leaves an enormous gap, which is difficult to bridge.

Herbert C. Freyhardt


John Robert Schrieffer

May 31, 1931 to July 27, 2019

August 7, 2019 (PO69).  John Robert Schrieffer, who along with John Bardeen and Leon Cooper shared the 1972 Nobel Prize in Physics for the BCS theory, passed away on July 27, 2019.

In an account prepared by the American Physical Society, an important idea came to Dr. Schrieffer while riding the New York City subway to a physics meeting early in 1957.  He realized that all Cooper Pairs in a superconductor could be described by just one of the “wave functions” that characterize quantum mechanics. At that time Schrieffer was a graduate student of John Bardeen.

The three protagonists of BCS then blended all of their ideas creating a complete theory.  Their work was submitted for publication to the Physical Review, where it appeared in December 1957 under the straightforward title “Theory of Superconductivity.”

Dr. Schrieffer received his undergraduate degree from MIT and his doctorate from the University of Illinois in 1957.  He did post-docs at the University of Birmingham and at the Niels Bohr Institute.

Schrieffer was on faculty at the University of Chicago, the University of Illinois, and the University of Pennsylvania.  In 1980, he joined the University of California at Santa Barbara as director of the Institute for Theoretical Physics.  In 1992, he joined the National High Magnetic Field Laboratory at Florida State University where he was Chief Scientist and retired from that position in 2006.

Edited obituary based on the obituary listed in The Washington Post


Hans-Georg Meyer

August 19, 1949 to December 25, 2018
Image: University of Jena

Hans-Georg Meyer Passed Away

January 4, 2019 (PO68). Prof. Hans-Georg Meyer, one of the European leaders in the field of applied superconductivity, tragically passed away on December 25th, 2018 at the age of 69 after a three-month fight for his life.

In 1973 he received his undergraduate diploma in physics from the Friedrich-Schiller-University (FSU) of Jena (Germany) in 1973 and his PhD in physics at the same university in 1981. From 1981 until 1993 Hans-Georg worked at the Institute of Solid-State Physics at the University of Jena. In 1985 he became Head of the Superconductor Theory group at that University. In his early career, he focused on the behavior dynamics of Josephson junctions under microwave radiation. These results made important contributions to the voltage standard in metrology. In particular, he made key contributions to voltage standard circuits based on Josephson tunnel junctions, which remain one of the successful applications of superconducting technologies originating from Jena.

In 1988, Hans-Georg earned his Facultas docendi and in 1991 his Habilitation (venia legendi) at the University of Jena. In 2009, the Friedrich-Schiller-University of Jena appointed him Professor Extraordinary for Applied Physics/Solid State Physics.

In 1993 he became Head of the Research Department of Cryoelectronics, later named Quantum Detection, at the Leibniz Institute of Photonic Technology (Leibniz IPHT), Jena, Germany. Together with Prof. Hoenig and with the support of Prof. Christoph Heiden from the University of Giessen (Germany), he developed the new research field of Cryoelectronics at Leibniz-IPHT, organized as a joint research focus by IPHT and the University of Jena, Siemens AG, PTB Braunschweig, and Forschungszentrum Jülich GmbH.

Hans-Georg, a very capable physicist with a broad theoretical background, devoted himself to basic research topics as well as to the transfer of research results into high sensitivity-tailored instruments and their application for everyday use. He laid the foundation for the application of SQUID sensors to exploration of natural resources, quantum-limited radiation detectors, such as the passive THz safety camera, that is applicable for standoff detection of hidden weapons and explosives and quantum technologies. These activities prospered and grew in the Leibniz IPHT under his leadership. In the past few years, he supported the research on thermal sensors which were developed and produced in his department and are now a reliable component in numerous NASA and ESA space missions.

As Head of the Quantum Detection Department at the Leibniz IPHT, he played a decisive role in shaping the research profile and strategic orientation of the Institute, especially in 2005, when he focused on photonic technologies. In particular, he supported research in the field of micro- and nanotechnologies and the establishment of the clean room which, under his leadership, developed into a technological core competency of IPHT. The research results in this area have often been published in high-impact journals, are internationally recognized and have played a significant part in the excellent status of the Leibniz-IPHT.

In 2001, he co-founded Supracon AG, a spin-off company from the Department of Quantum Detection at Leibniz-IPHT and thereby helped to bring SQUID magnetometry and Josephson Voltage Standards into successful industrial applications. After his retirement from the Leibniz-IPHT in 2017, he joined Supracon AG as Head of Business Development.

Hans-Georg served the research community of applied superconductivity as member of the Advisory Committee of the International Workshop on Low-Temperature Electronics (WOLTE), as a member of the Program Committee of Applied Superconductivity Conference (ASC), and as a member of the Scientific Committee of National Conference “Kryoelektronische Bauelemente (KRYO)” in Germany. He devoted substantial time to the European Association for Superconductor Electronics (FLUXONICS) as long-standing Vice Chairman.

Hans-Georg Meyer was honored with prizes for his outstanding achievements in the research field of applied superconductivity. These include the "International Mining Research Award" and the "Thüringer Forschungspreis" in the category "Applied Research".

In his private life, Hans-Georg was dedicated to German history and, in particular, of the provinces Saxonia, Thuringia and his home region “Vogtland” and took great interest in the preservation of his mother dialect spoken in this region. He was a great lover and connoisseur of classical music with a special interest in Baroque music, e.g. Bach, and took great pleasure in researching the origins of names (Onomastics) and their distribution within Germany.

Hans-Georg is survived by his son Matthias and his wife Ning, the two grandchildren Luke and Mathilde, his current life partner, Beate Pommer, and relatives. He also leaves behind many old companions with whom he jointly walked the path throughout their professional careers, many old and new colleagues, scientific and business partners, and friends from all over the world.

Dr. Ronny Stolz, Leibnitz Institute of Photonic Technology Jena

Prof. Dr. Michael Siegel, Karlsruhe Institute of Technology


Kyoji Tachikawa

January 5, 1927 to December 7, 2018

December 19, 2018 (PO67).  Kyoji Tachikawa was born and raised in Tokyo, Japan. He received his BEng (1950) and Dr. Eng. (1961), both on Permanent Magnets, from the Faculty of Engineering, University of Tokyo, and joined the scientific staff of the University of Tokyo as a research associate in 1954. His first scientific papers date back to that year and refer to cold working studies of permanent magnet alloys and later on to high-C and high-Zr steels. In 1962 Tachikawa moved to the National Research Institute of Metals (NRIM) in Tsukuba, where he spent almost his entire scientific career until his “first” official retirement in 1987. He began there as the Head of the Electric and Magnetic Materials Laboratory in 1962, became Director of the Electric and Magnetic Materials Division in 1974, Director of the Superconducting and Cryogenic Materials Division in 1980, and Director of the entire Tsukuba Laboratories in 1985.

His first paper on superconducting materials appeared in 1964 and dealt with the Nb-Zr system. Only three years later he developed V3Ga tapes with a very attractive high-field performance using Cu as a catalyst for the diffusion reaction. Again, three years later, he made an epoch-making invention of the so-called bronze process enabling the production of multifilamentary type V3Ga conductors starting from V/Cu-Ga composites. He constructed the first magnet wound from multifilamentary type A-15 conductors in 1974, which was quite stable under time-varying fields. The bronze process was then successfully applied to the production of multifilamentary Nb3Sn conductors, a workhorse for present-day high-field applications of superconductivity. The next seminal improvement came in 1982 when he developed Nb3Sn conductors, doped by a few at% of Ti, which is incorporated into the Nb3Sn layer and enhances the upper critical field from 20 to 25 T at 4.2 K by the mean-free-path effect. These materials are being used for one of the most demanding magnets ever designed, i.e. the toroidal field coils of the ITER nuclear fusion device.

After his retirement from the Tsukuba Laboratories, Tachikawa started his second career as a full professor at the Faculty of Engineering of Tokai University in April 1987. Substantial improvements of the A-15’s by new processing techniques, the development of other high-field superconductors, such as V2Hf, the development of ultra-thin filaments for ac applications, substantial contributions to the processing of Bi and Tl-based high temperature superconductors, and finally research on the enhancement of critical currents in MgB2 superconductors represent the highlights of Tachikawa’s work in “retirement”.

Professor Tachikawa’s scientific achievements are documented by four books and the editing of seven conference proceedings, around 400 scientific publications in refereed journals (among them 47 in CEC/ICMC Proceedings), and frequent seminar and conference presentations all around the world. He spent sabbaticals at the Francis Bitter National Magnet Lab at MIT, the University of Lausanne in Switzerland, and the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Numerous awards and honors bear testimony of the esteem and the international reputation gained by Tachikawa over the years, among them numerous best paper awards from the Japan Institute of Metals and from ICMC, the National Decoration from the Emperor of Japan in 1997, and the Prize for Distinguished Achievements in Research from the Cryogenic Society in Japan in May 2008. In 2000, along with Prof. David Larbalestier, he was one of the first two recipients of the award for lifetime achievement in Materials from the IEEE Council on Superconductivity Additionally, in 2009, Prof. Tachikawa was the third ever recipient of the ICMC Lifetime Achievement Award. The citation read: “The Lifetime Achievement Award for his outstanding work and contributions to the science and technology of superconducting materials achieved during a distinguished career is presented to Kyoji Tachikawa”.