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Recent In Memoriam (Obituaries)

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 straight forward 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 a 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 as 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”.


 

Roger W. Boom

March 10, 1923 to August 8, 2018
Date of photo unknown

August 29, 2018 (PO66).  Roger Wright Boom died on August 8, 2018, in La Jolla, California, following a long bout with Alzheimer’s disease. He was 95 years old at the time of his death.

Roger was born in 1923 to Frank and Gladys Boom, in Bladen, Nebraska. He attended grade school and high school in Bladen and then attended the University of Nebraska, where he earned a bachelor’s degree in Physics in 1944, Phi Beta Kappa, Pi Mu Epsilon, and Sigma Xi. He was then a research associate in the Harvard Underwater Sound Research Lab. He joined the Navy in 1945 and taught electronics at the Great Lakes Naval Training Center.

He continued his education after WWII at University of Minnesota (M.S.-1950). In 1951 he married LaVerne Backdahl. He earned his Ph.D. in Physics at UCLA in 1958. Along with Profs. Kenneth R Mackenzie, Byron T. Wright, other graduate students and technicians, Roger helped bring up the new UCLA 49 inch cyclotron. He then did post-doctoral research at the University of Bonn for two years before joining Oak Ridge National Lab in 1960. In 1963 he returned to California to work for Atomics International where he received the prestigious IR100 award for his work in cryogenics and superconductivity.

In 1968 Roger joined the faculty of the College of Engineering at the University of Wisconsin in Madison. There he continued his research in cryogenics and superconductivity and established the Applied Superconductivity Center which is now located at Florida State University in Tallahassee. His projects included early work in Superconductive Magnetic Energy Storage (SMES), a development of his and his longtime collaborator and friend, Professor Harold Peterson. Numerous researchers and leaders in the field today were doctoral candidates and postdocs in this program. He retired and became Distinguished Professor Emeritus in 1993. In July 1993, the Cryogenic Engineering Conference presented Boom with the Samuel C. Collins Award for outstanding contributions to cryogenic technology.

Roger was awarded 12 patents, primarily in the design of systems for cryogenic superconductivity.

Recognizing his accomplishments and his keen interest in nurturing new talent in the field, the Cryogenic Society of America established the Roger W. Boom Award in 2008. It is awarded biannually to a young professional who “shows promise for making significant contributions to the fields of cryogenic engineering and applied superconductivity.” The spirit of the R.W. Boom Award is to recognize young people for their pursuit of excellence, demonstration of high standards and clear communications.

During his tenure at UW he received the Byron Bird Award from the School of Engineering in 1986.

Roger was an avid golfer and was a member of Blackhawk Country Club while living in Madison. He continued to play golf in retirement, and would often frustrate younger players on the course with his capacity to chip accurately and usually leave only a short putt.

Roger’s love for the quest of knowledge was indeed tangible, including support for family members’ education, and the establishment of a scholarship fund through the University of Wisconsin Foundation for both men and women pursuing advanced degrees in Engineering. He and LaVerne were members of the Bascom Hill Society.

As Roger lost ground to the ravages of Alzheimer’s disease, he was fortunate and very appreciative to have the assistance of his grandniece Jennifer (McKenzie) Mannino living nearby as he progressed from independent living and playing golf to becoming a resident in the dementia care unit at White Sands of La Jolla. Her frequent visits, car trips, attention, and companionship helped him enjoy as much as possible those years, as he remained sociable, affable, and never faltered before a good meal with good company.

Roger died without issue, and was preceded in death by his wife LaVerne Boom in 2001; his parents, Frank and Gladys Boom; his sister, Lurye McKenzie, and his brother-in-law and high school physics teacher, Ronald J. McKenzie, Jr. He is survived by nephews, Ronald (Margot) McKenzie III, and Rodney (Paula) McKenzie, as well as nieces, Roine (Chas) Thomsen, and Marilyn Calhoun, and nephew Gary Ripley, as well as grandnieces and grandnephews.

Interment was August 13, 2018, at El Camino Memorial Park in San Diego, CA, beside his beloved wife, LaVerne.

Contributors: Steve van Sciver, Peter Lee, David Larbalestier, Bruce Strauss, and Rodney McKenzie


 

Fernand D. “Doc” Bedard

October 6, 1927 to June 21, 2018
Date Unknown

August 7, 2018 (PO65).  With a B.S. in Physics, Magna Cum Laude, from Fordham University, a Ph.D. in Physics from the Johns Hopkins University and several years teaching at the University of Cincinnati, “Doc” Bedard was recruited by NSA in 1955, based on his graduate work in superconductivity, to participate in Project LIGHTNING.  Project LIGHTNING was a program to explore multiple technologies aimed at achieving three orders of magnitude improvement in compute power for large scale processors.  Although the superconducting approach being pursued at the time, cryotrons, did not prove to be the solution, his work on this program launched Dr. Bedard on a long and distinguished career in superconductivity, ranging from fundamental studies in materials and phenomena to a myriad of applications for computing and ultra-sensitive detectors.

Beyond his early cryotron work, Dr. Bedard had a major impact on several other significant programs to harness superconductivity for computing applications.  He was the prime government force behind a joint IBM/NSA program to use Josephson Junctions as a basic switching element.  It demonstrated the Josephson Junction’s expected high speed and low power advantages for logic applications.  Doc was also a key participant in a joint government/university/industry program in the 1990s, Hybrid Technology MultiThreaded (HTMT) architecture, which sought to achieve major advances in compute power through several emerging technologies, with superconductivity playing a major part in several of them.  Never one to simply be an observer, Doc continued his personal technical efforts, designing and having a prototype built of a revolutionary CROSSBAR SWITCH to provide low latency processor/memory interconnect, an essential element in a full superconducting high-performance computer.

Another area in which Doc Bedard exploited the characteristics of superconductors was in Superconducting Quantum Interference Devices (SQUIDs) for ultra-sensitive measurement of atmospheric noise at low frequencies.  After fielding in far-flung reaches of the earth, including on an ice flow north of Prudhoe Bay, Alaska, Doc concluded that, in most areas of the globe, SQUID sensitivity was greater than needed.  Once again he went into personal contributor mode, designing and building a non-superconductor, high sensitivity, three axes “CUBE” antenna, which is compact, easily deployable and atmospherically noise-limited in the low-frequency range.

For these accomplishments and many more, Doc Bedard received many awards and much recognition, best summed up in his being awarded the IEEE Medal for Accomplishments in Superconductive Electronics.

In addition to his significant personal technical accomplishments,  Doc Bedard continually played a leadership role at NSA, serving as Director of the Laboratory for Physical Sciences and Director of Signals Intelligence (SIGINT) Research.  Through these Management positions, he was able to leverage his technical skills and experience over a wide range of basic and applied research activities.  These leadership activities dovetailed well with another enduring area in which Doc Bedard’s influence and efforts will be felt for decades, the development of NSA’s technical talent.  As a founding member of the Senior Technical Review Panel (STRP) which provides oversight to NSA’s most senior technical development program, Doc coached, mentored and advised NSA’s “best and brightest”.  Several generations of Agency technical leaders who have benefitted mightily from his dedicated and caring efforts are now playing key roles in ensuring NSA’s future success.  Many others in the superconductivity community and beyond have also benefitted from his leadership and mentoring.