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In Memoriam (Obituaries) Archive

Alan Lauder
Friday, February 17, 2023
Carl Leonard Goodzeit
Wednesday, January 25, 2017
Klaus Irgmaier
Friday, June 28, 2013
George William Crabtree
Monday, January 23, 2023
Mauricio (Mau) de Lima Lopes
Tuesday, January 3, 2017
Joe Smith, Jr.
Tuesday, May 7, 2013
K. Alex Müller
Monday, January 9, 2023
Lev Petrovich Gor'kov
Wednesday, December 28, 2016
Sergey Egorov
Sunday, March 24, 2013
Donald “Bruce” Montgomery
Friday, July 1, 2022
Peter Komarek
Wednesday, November 23, 2016
Kiyoshi Tsukasa
Friday, January 25, 2013
Sir Martin Wood
Tuesday, November 23, 2021
Giovanni Volpini
Wednesday, October 12, 2016
Henry Blosser
Tuesday, January 1, 2013
Edward Neil Cliff Dalder
Monday, November 15, 2021
Leszek Motowidlo
Wednesday, September 21, 2016
Gordon Donaldson
Wednesday, November 28, 2012
Alexander Dmitrievich Kovalenko
Friday, April 30, 2021
Eric Gregory
Sunday, August 28, 2016
Michael Wulf
Friday, November 16, 2012
Robert “Bob” Buhrman
Tuesday, April 13, 2021
Eddie Man-Wai Leung
Monday, August 1, 2016
Rob McGrath
Wednesday, August 8, 2012
Ryazanov Alexander Ivanovich
Tuesday, March 23, 2021
Helen T. Edwards
Tuesday, June 21, 2016
Jens Müller
Tuesday, July 24, 2012
Sergey Igorevich Kopylov
Friday, December 25, 2020
Konrad H. Fischer
Tuesday, May 3, 2016
Carl Henning
Wednesday, June 13, 2012
James Wong
Sunday, October 4, 2020
Karl Gschneidner
Wednesday, April 27, 2016
Akira Tonomura
Wednesday, May 2, 2012
Rafael Navarro
Friday, September 25, 2020
Colmar Hinnrichs
Saturday, February 27, 2016
Siegfried Wolff
Tuesday, March 13, 2012
John "Jack" F. Mc Donald
Friday, February 21, 2020
William E. "Bill" Keller
Thursday, December 31, 2015
Milan Polák
Tuesday, January 31, 2012
Alvin Tollestrup
Sunday, February 9, 2020
Robert John Soulen, Jr.
Sunday, November 29, 2015
Marty Lubell
Monday, January 16, 2012
Archie MacRobert Campbell
Thursday, November 21, 2019
Herbert Bousack
Friday, November 13, 2015
Antonio Barone
Sunday, December 4, 2011
Francesco Negrini
Tuesday, August 20, 2019
Harry (Henry) Jones
Monday, August 24, 2015
Shoji Tanaka
Friday, November 11, 2011
John Robert Schrieffer
Saturday, July 27, 2019
William Brownfield Fowler
Sunday, May 3, 2015
Clyde Taylor
Sunday, October 16, 2011
Kamel Salama
Friday, July 12, 2019
Viktor Efimovich Keilin
Monday, November 24, 2014
Per Dahl
Saturday, October 1, 2011
Alan F. Clark
Friday, February 1, 2019
Koichi Kitazawa
Friday, September 26, 2014
Ernst-Helmut Brandt
Thursday, September 1, 2011
Hans-Georg Meyer
Tuesday, December 25, 2018
Werner Weber
Thursday, July 3, 2014
Igot Yanson
Monday, July 25, 2011
Kyoji Tachikawa
Friday, December 7, 2018
Hirosi Maeda
Saturday, May 24, 2014
Ray Sarwinski
Wednesday, March 23, 2011
Roger W. Boom
Wednesday, August 8, 2018
James H. Parker, Jr.
Tuesday, April 15, 2014
Hisashi Kado
Wednesday, December 22, 2010
William “Bill” R. Shields
Friday, July 13, 2018
Olga L. Polushenko
Tuesday, March 4, 2014
Gert Eilenberger
Sunday, November 21, 2010
Fernand D. “Doc” Bedard
Thursday, June 21, 2018
Hans Hillman
Thursday, February 6, 2014
W. James Carr Jr.
Tuesday, November 16, 2010
Vincenzo (Enzo) Palmieri
Friday, March 16, 2018
Nicola Sacchetti
Saturday, February 1, 2014
Michael Tinkham
Thursday, November 4, 2010
Meyer Garber
Thursday, December 14, 2017
Leo K. Kovalev
Tuesday, January 28, 2014
Praveen Chaudhari
Thursday, January 14, 2010
James Nordman
Tuesday, November 21, 2017
Alex Shikov
Saturday, October 26, 2013
Vitaly L. Ginzburg
Sunday, November 8, 2009
Henri Desportes
Sunday, September 24, 2017
Nikolai Kopnin
Sunday, October 20, 2013
Zdenek J. J. Stekly
Friday, April 3, 2009
John Alcorn
Thursday, September 7, 2017
Jeffrey A. Stern
Friday, October 11, 2013
Masaki Suenaga
Friday, February 13, 2009
Edgar A. Edelsack
Friday, May 5, 2017
Vladimir Pan
Friday, September 20, 2013
Hiromi Hirabayashi
Friday, April 11, 2008
Alexei Abrikosov
Wednesday, March 29, 2017
Øystein Håkon Fischer
Thursday, September 19, 2013
Hisao Hayakawa
David G. Hawksworth
Wednesday, March 15, 2017
John Clem
Friday, August 2, 2013
Richard Stacy Withers
Peter E. Gifford
Sunday, January 29, 2017

Olga L. Polushenko

October 8, 1942 to March 4, 2014
Young Olga L. Poluschenko (about 1974)
Olga L. Polushenko, 1942 – 2014
June 30, 2014 (PO32).  Olga Leonidowna Polushenko was born on October 8th, 1942 in the Voronesh region and passed away after a severe illness on March 4th, 2014.  She graduated from the famous Moscow State Technical University (named after N.E. Bauman, Russian acronym MGTU), in 1965 and earned her Ph.D. degree (Russian “candidate of sciences”) in 1973 for a study on hot pressing of ferrites, also from MGTU.  While her early research was in powder metallurgy of electronic and magnetic materials, she became deeply involved in R&D of superconducting materials since the advent of high-Tcsuperconducting (HTS) cuprates in 1986. Olga remained at MGTU and became there a “docent” (equivalent to Associate Professor) combining teaching and research activities. 
Over the past 28 years, her interest concentrated on bulk HTS technology, suitable for fabrication of high-strength cryogenic magnets.  The excellent properties of her bulk materials enabled the construction of first Russian HTS superconducting motors with excellent characteristics.  Recently, she made a major contribution to the development of superconducting bearings for the kinetic energy storage (under a “Rosatom” program).
Olga authored over 40 scientific publications and had 6 Russian patents to her credit.  Her friends remember her not only as a scientist and “a patriot of Russian superconductivity”, but also as a remarkable and wonderful person.  Many remember her also as an excellent culinary chef, especially remembered by her unforgettable tort cakes.  She’ll remain in the hearts of her many collaborators and friends.  Olga didn’t leave behind any family.
(Written by SNF based in part on an obituary in Russian published by N. Nizhel’skiy for friends of Olga Poluschenko in the online Superconductors in Electric Power Industry published by the Moscow Kurchatov Institute, a Russian National Research Center, and

Hans Hillman

February 15, 1922 to February 6, 2014
Hans Hillmann, 2008
Hans HIllmann Remembered
September 10, 2014 (PO35).  Hans Hillmann, a prominent superconducting materials scientist and consummate artist, passed away on February 6, 2014, at almost 92.  He was born on February 15, 1922 in Ronneburg, Thuringia, Germany.  Shortly after WW II, he started his career initially as a teacher of art, mathematics and physics (1946-1956), while nearly simultaneously studying physics as an extern at the Technical University of Dresden, Saxony, Germany (1952-1957).  Upon graduating with a diploma, he became there a Scientific Assistant at the Institute for X-Ray Science and Metal Physics.  
In 1959 Hans successfully moved from East Germany to the West and immediately got hired by Vacuumschmelze GmbH (VAC) in Hanau, West Germany, to work in their R&D laboratory.VAC was then a prominent manufacturer of high quality specialty metals and alloys, especially soft magnetic alloys. Shortly thereafter, in 1961, Gene Kunzler of Bell Labs demonstrated high critical current at 8 tesla in Nb3Sn and the first worldwide “gold rush” into fabricating superconducting wires of more ductile alloys began, first of NbZr soon superseded by NbTi. Naturally, Vacuumschmelze joined the fray and so Hans got involved into superconductivity of materials and conductors, over the years making and publishing multiple important contributions to the science and technology of NbZr, NbTi and Nb3Sn.  He worked on these over the rest of his scientific career.  Nevertheless, the breadth of his interest and the experience with difficult to process NbZr led Hans to contribute also in other areas.  
As an example can serve - developed by him - the first nonmagnetic watch springs with temperature-independent E modulus, which found application in expensive mechanical watches.  Soon after, the technology of such springs fell in oblivion due to the rapid spread of quartz watches.  Only decades later, with Hans long retired, very expensive mechanical watches had their renaissance and Swiss manufacturers were desperate to find a source of appropriate springs.  Hans was the only remaining repository of spring know-how.  He faced the challenge, jumped into action and reconstituted the technology.  Today, a very expensive Swiss watch is likely to contain a spring „Made by Hans Hillmann“.
In 1974 he defended his doctoral dissertation on "Micro-Structural Principles of Flux Pinning in NbTi" with Prof. W. Buckel as advisor at the Technical University of Karlsruhe, and in the same year was awarded the prestigious Tammann Medal by the German Metallurgy Society.  That award was for his pioneering work in the field of hard (Type II) superconductors.  Hans retired in 1988, but continued publishing and consulting while simultaneously pursuing his artistic activities as painter and exhibitor at art galleries and museums.
Most remarkable was Hans’s gift to be able to see any problem as a whole with all its ramifications and extrapolations into the future.  He participated in many European projects and toward the end of his career he was responsible for all the superconducting R&D activity at VAC.  During the more than 26 years of his work in this area, his main focus - next to performing basic research on high-current and high-field superconductor technology - was to transform laboratory results into technically usable NbTi and Nb3Sn commercial products. He contributed largely to the early stages of industrial manufacturing of superconductors at VAC.  Particularly vital was his insistence on understanding technical superconductors in the complex nanostructured forms in which they had to be used.  He was a delightful colleague, not at all narrow-minded in any commercial sense, because he always seemed motivated by the belief that better superconductors would increase the market for all.  This spirit certainly made VAC one of the leading companies worldwide, a situation still true today decades after his retirement when it is now owned by Bruker EAS, but still at Hanau, Germany.
Hans’s art gene was nurtured by his early professional activity of math, physics and art teacher, as documented by his exceptional drawings and sketches of experimental equipment.  The esthetics of mathematics and superconductor physics was visualized in his multiple paintings inspired by images of physical effects.
Hans has been an exceptional personality in the superconductivity community.  To have him among us was a special gift. We’ll cherish his memory.
Colleagues and friends at Bruker, David Larbalestier at NHMFL and Alex Braginski at Research Center Juelich

Nicola Sacchetti

April 5, 1936 to February 1, 2014
Nicola Sacchetti (recent photo)
Nicola Sacchetti, 1936 - 2014
June 24, 2014 (PO31).  Nicola Sacchetti was born in Florence (Italy) on April 5th, 1936 and died in Frascati (Italy) on the 1st of February 2014.  He will be remembered as one of the pioneers in applied superconductivity, not only in Italy and Europe, but also in the U.S. and Japan.  His ability in communicating knowledge and enthusiasm to young researchers made him one of the best teachers one could have met.
Born in Florence in 1936, he graduated in Physics at Genoa University in 1960.  In 1962, soon after the completion of his master thesis, he joined the Magnet Group of the Frascati National Laboratory in Frascati, coordinated at that time by the Italian Institute for Nuclear Physics, INFN. 
His initial scientific activity, until 1970, was already devoted to physics of superconductivity, specifically the tunneling effect. He was among the first to develop tunnel junctions in Italy.  Independently of it created a prototype installation for the production of Nb3Sn tape conductor based on liquid tin diffusion.  In the same years he became involved in the completion of several superconducting magnets, among which the Nb3Sn solenoid able to produce the magnetic field of 11T in a volume then large enough for experimental purposes.  In the following years, Nicola also started efforts to ignite interest in applied superconductivity at Italian industries such as Ansaldo and LMI.
In 1976 Nicola was appointed Director of Superconductivity Laboratory in the Fusion Department of CNEN (now ENEA) - in the frame of the EURATOM Association - and exerted that function until 1989.   In this period he proposed the construction of the test facility SULTAN, to be built in collaboration with SIN (now Paul Scherrer Institute, PSI) at Villigen, Switzerland.  This important step was the starting point of his and the ENEA Superconductivity Lab’s close and fruitful collaboration with Italian industries in the realization of large scale projects in the field of applied superconductivity.  That brought these industries into deep involvement in the construction of important international experimental operations such as the LHC accelerator system and currently the fusion demonstrator ITER.
In 1974 Nicola became member of the CERN Machine Advisory Committee for S.P.S.  In 1976 he became deputy member of the Advisory Group of Fusion Technology of Euratom, which had a role in the approval of the Tore-Supra tokamak project realized in Cadarache, France.  In 1994 was appointed as Scientific Advisor for the Fusion Department in ENEA.  In 1995 was appointed by MURTS (Italian Department for University, Research and Education) as consultant for the evaluation of large scientific projects in the field of cryogenics and applied superconductivity (such as ICARUS and a prototype model of ATLAS).  He also contributed to the applied superconductivity community as member of International Organizing Committee of the MT conference.
Nicola had a strong passion for watercolor painting and some of his fine pictures are adorning the houses of most of his colleagues.


Leo K. Kovalev

January 1, 1942 to January 28, 2014
Leo K. Kovalev (December 2012)

Leo K. Kovalev, 1941 - 2014, Remembered

February 7, 2014 (PO26). On January 28, 2014, Prof. Leo K. Kovalev suddenly passed away in Moscow from a myocardial infarction at the age of 72. To the superconducting electro-machinery community, Leo K. Kovalev was well known worldwide through his work on electric machines with HTS bulk elements, comprising hysteresis motors, reluctance motors and motors utilizing permanent magnets. He also paid great attention to HTS-magnetic-suspension systems for high-speed rail-borne transportation and flywheels.

In 1964, he started his professional career at the Central Institute of Aircraft Engines, Moscow, after graduating from Moscow State Technical University Named After N. E. Bauman. A few years later he joined the Department of Electric Machines, the Dept. 310, of the Moscow Aviation Institute (MAI), headed by Prof. Albert I. Bertinov. During that time he pursued research in the field of MHD (magneto-hydrodynamic) energy conversion, and in 1972 he finished his Science Candidate (doctoral) dissertation on MHD generators. For the following ten years his research activity shifted to ionosphere radio physics, hydrodynamics and radio waves propagation at the Scientific Research Institute of Long-Haul Radio. During 1980-1982 he was the Deputy General Constructor of that institute. In 1982 he returned to the Dept.310 of MAI, headed at that time by Prof. Dmitry A. But, and continued research on MHD problems and in parallel extended his interest to low-temperature superconducting electric machines. When In 1986, when high-temperature superconductivity (HTS) was discovered, Leo concentrated his research on HTS electric machines and developed several series of cryogenic electric machines utilizing bulk HTS elements, operating at liquid nitrogen temperatures. He is the author of four books and more than 200 scientific and technical papers. In 1996 he attained his D.Sc. (habilitation equivalent) degree and became a Professor. Since 2002 he headed Dept. 310 of MAI, and in that same year he was awarded the State Prize of Russian Government in the field of Science and Technology. He initiated “The Centre of Superconducting Electric Machines and Devices” at MAI. Leo was an enthusiastic specialist in electromechanics, applied superconductivity, hydrodynamics and radio physics. He liked to first identify new scientific problems and then to solve them.

He actively took part in the international development of superconducting electric machines and was one of the initiators of the German-Russian cooperation, leading to the design and development of superconducting electric motors with liquid nitrogen cooling. The consortium comprised: Oswald Elektromotoren GmbH (Miltenberg), Stuttgart Technical University, IPHT (Jena), IFW (Dresden), Moscow Aviation Institute, A.A. Bochvar All-Russian Scientific Research Institute for Inorganic Materials (Moscow), All-Russian Electrotechnical Institute (Moscow), and the Institute for Solid State Physics (Chernogolovka, Moscow region).

Prof. Leo K. Kovalev was an Academician of the Russian Academy of Electrotechnical Sciences, an Honored Scientist of Russian Federation (RF), and an advisory council member of Highest Certifying Commission (RF).

Besides his research activities, Leo K. Kovalev was a true intellectual and a real friend for all his partners. Everyone who visited his Moscow home or countryside residence was surrounded with hospitality and warmth. He possessed a rare gift of charming his interlocutor from the very first words of communication.  He left behind his dear wife Tatiana and a son, who like all of us will miss him very much.

Vladimir T. Penkin and Konstantin L. Kovalev

Alex Shikov

January 1, 1948 to October 26, 2013
Alexander Shikov (recent photo)

Alex Shikov Unexpectedly Passed Away

October 30, 2013 (PO22).  Professor Alex Shikov unexpectedly passed away on October 26, 2013.  Alexander Konstantinovich Shikov was born in Norilsk (then USSR) in 1948.  He graduated from the Moscow Steel and Alloys Institute in 1971 and started his scientific career as a junior research associate at the Bochvar Institute of Inorganic Materials, also in 1971. He received his D.Sc. (Habilitation) degree in 1991.  Since 1998, Dr. Shikov served as the deputy director of Bochvar Institute, and from March to August 2009 as its Head.  He was then appointed as the Executive Director of Kurchatov Institute's center for Nano-Bio-Info-Cognitive (NBIC) Science and Technology.  Memorial ceremonies were held on October 30, 2013, in Kurchatov Culture Center.

Shikov made an outstanding contribution to restoration of production of superconducting materials after the collapse of Soviet Union.  Due to his scientific and management talents, Russian conductors for ITER are today competitive or even exceed the highest performance requirements. While at Kurchatov Institute, he directed research into superconducting materials for ITER and initiated production of HTS materials.  Prof. Shikov was an author of three monographs, 250 papers in peer-reviewed scientific journals and 60 patents. He held a Chair of the Applied Superconductivity division in the Moscow Institute of Engineering Physics (Moscow’s outstanding Technical University).

Prof. Shikov was awarded several State Prizes in the field of science and engineering, an award of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the gold and silver medals of the International Exhibition of Inventions. He was a member of the Academy of Electro-technical Sciences of the Russian Federation.  He also received an International Cryogenic Materials Conference Best Paper Award at the meeting in Tucson, Arizona in July 2009.

The memory about this outstanding man will be carried not only by his conductors with non-decaying currents and will last.  All who knew him will remember his energy, motivation, optimism and achievements.

(Obituary based in part on that published in the Russian website “Superconductors in Power Industry”; see Superconductors in Power Industry, in Russian. Readers in Russian can find there some additional reading on and by Shikov.)


Nikolai Kopnin

January 1, 1946 to October 20, 2013
Nikolai B. Kopnin (Photo October 16, 2013 in Rome)

Nikolai Kopnin, Low-temperature Physicist

January 2, 2014 (PO25). Our friend and colleague Professor Nikolai Borisovich Kopnin passed away on October 20, 2013, during a lecturing trip to Rome. He was 67 years old.

Nikolai Kopnin had been a frequent visitor at the Aalto Low Temperature Laboratory1 for several years until in 2000 he became a member of the staff.  His early collaboration with the Laboratory was on the dynamics of quantized vortices in helium-3 superfluids.  Lately, his studies contributed extensively to the development of superconducting nanoelectronics, the new backbone of the Laboratory's research.

Nikolai received his physics education in Moscow. In 1973 he defended his PhD thesis on vortices in Type II superconductors under the supervision of Academician Lev P. Gor’kov in the Landau Institute of Theoretical Physics. He remained a researcher of the Landau Institute, and in 1984 he received his higher doctoral degree.  In 2011, he was awarded the International Francis Simon Prize (together with his Landau colleague, S.V. Iordanskii).  The Prize was for his work on forces acting on quantum vortices in superfluids and superconductors. One of these forces is now known as the "Kopnin force".

The main area of Nikolai Kopnin's research was superconductivity, primarily its non-equilibrium and non-stationary phenomena. His research work has been highly recognized and he was one of the leading experts in this field worldwide, as shown by the citations of his monograph “Nonequilibrium superconductivity" (Oxford University Press, 2001).  He has contributed to the studies of anisotropic and layered superconductors, developed the microscopic theories for dissipative and non-stationary flow in Fermi superfluids, in particular in superfluid 3He, worked on new mechanisms for the formation of topological defects during rapid quench-cooled phase transitions, which has applications in cosmology, and he constructed theories of superfluid quantum turbulence.  During more recent years he investigated the physics of mesoscopic structures and devices, including graphene.  He published more than 150 highly cited articles in leading international journals.

Already in 1991, by extending his theory of the "Kopnin force" to chiral superfluids Nikolai predicted the existence of fermionic bound states, which have exactly zero energy. Today these quasiparticles are known as Majorana fermions - objects, which are still elusive in particle physics but may be observable in topological superfluids and superconductors.  The bound states in chiral superfluids found by him have in addition the remarkable property that their spectrum is dispersionless.  Now such flat bands are intensively searched for in solid-state materials.  According to Nikolai’s recent work, the singular density of states in materials with a flat band may open the route to superconductivity at room temperature.

Nikolai Kopnin was a modest person who was always fair and considerate to his colleagues and friends, and they considered him a noble man with a strong passion for science.  He was a person whom one could always trust and who dedicated and committed himself fully to his research activity.  His free time Nikolai devoted to his family and enjoyed interesting hikes and journeys to wilderness. Those who were fortunate to be friends with Nikolai know that there is nothing better to look for. 

Nikolai was always caring and loyal, with warm human spirits and intelligent sense of humor.

Matti Krusius, Jukka Pekola and Grigori Volovik

1Aalto University, School of Science, FI-00076 Aalto, Finland.

Jeffrey A. Stern

September 16, 1961 to October 11, 2013

Jeffrey A. Stern Passed Away

October 11, 2013 (PO27).  Dr. Jeffrey A. Stern was born on September 16, 1961, and passed away on October 11, 2013, at the age of 52, after a year-long battle with cancer.  

Jeff received his B.S. physics degree from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in 1983 and his Ph.D. from California Institute of Technology in 1991. He spent his entire career at the Caltech Jet Propulsion Laboratory in Pasadena, CA. During his tenure at JPL, he made significant contributions to the development of superconducting sensors. He fabricated, tested, and space-qualified superconductor–insulator–superconductor (SIS) mixer chips, an enabling technology for band 5 (1140–1250 GHz) of the Heterodyne Instrument for the Far-Infrared (HIFI) on the Herschel Space Observatory. HIFI band 5 included some key spectral lines that have had a major impact on understanding of the interstellar medium (ISM) and astrochemistry. Possibly the most important is the ground state transition of hydrogen fluoride (HF). A large number of Herschel studies confirm that essentially all flourine in the diffuse ISM is in the form of hydrogen fluoride, HF. Consequently, this 1232 GHz transition, measured using band 5, can be an accurate tracer of the total column density of clouds. HF has been exploited in studies of the Milky Way and is now being used in observations of external galaxies. Also, Band 5 enabled detection of new species critical for understanding the production of water in the ISM such as H2O+, and made major contributions to unraveling the ortho-to-para ratio of the water molecule, giving strong indications about the conditions for the formation of water in space.

After delivering HIFI band 5 mixers, Jeff pioneered the use of phonon-cooled niobium nitride (NbN) mixers and fabrication of THz waveguide components using lithographic techniques. These technologies enabled new instrument concepts proposed for NASA's sub-orbital programs and follow-on space missions after HIFI. Concurrently with the THz mixer development, Jeff began work on new detectors for optical communications. Jeff was the first person in the US (2004) to make a functional superconducting nanowire single photon detector (SNSPD); the first person to fabricate a functional SNSPD in NbTiN (2006) and the first to fabricate arrays (4 to 16 pixels, 2005-2007). From 2012-2013, Jeff designed and fabricated fiber optic coupled SNSPDs from tungsten silicide (WSi) with the highest efficiency demonstrated to date (93%), 12-pixels arrays used in 2012 to establish an optical communications link with the Lunar Atmosphere and Dust Environment Explorer (LADEE) spacecraft orbiting the moon. His last accomplishment was a 64-pixel free space coupled SNSPD with an active area over 100 times greater than other state-of-the-art devices designed to be mounted on large telescope such as the 5 m Hale telescope at Palomar in California that can be used for optical communication with spacecraft around other planets, for observing ultrafast astrophysical events and for experimentally measuring quantum mechanical effects over large distances.  Jeff Stern's innovations and technology leadership have led to a world-leading team at NASA developing optical detectors for space applications with near perfect efficiency, near zero noise, and high (sub-nanosecond) photon arrival timing resolution.

Outside of his profession, Jeff Stern was an avid participant in outdoor activities, including skiing, hiking, camping, rock climbing, swimming, scuba diving.  He loved to cook and was a self-professed "foodie" who delighted in locating and trying new restaurants.  He was also an avid gamer right up until the time he passed.  Jeff was devoted to his family and is survived by Allison, his wife of 23 years, and his son Noah (19) and daughter Maddy (16).

Vladimir Pan

January 1, 1931 to September 20, 2013
Prof. Vladimir M. Pan (photo Feb. 2006)

Vladimir Pan Remembered

November 6, 2013 (PO23).  On 20 September 2013, Prof. Vladimir M. Pan passed away at 82. Vladimir was an Emeritus Professor at the Institute of Metal Physics (IMP) of the National Academy of Sciences of Ukraine and at the Taras Shevchenko National University of Kiev. Over four decades he successfully led the Department of Superconductivity, which he founded in 1970 at the Institute of Metal Physics in Kiev (USSR, now Ukraine).

Born on 15 September 1931 in Kharkov, USSR, Vladimir earned his first degree (Master of Science) at the Kiev Polytechnic Institute in 1955. In the same year, he joined the Institute of Metal Physics, where he defended his PhD in 1961, working on phase diagrams of metals. This experience had allowed him later to merge the fields of Materials Science and Superconductivity and to establish a new research direction in Ukraine, the Science of Superconducting Materials.

Having published over 400 research papers and reports, Vladimir actively continued to work and energize his colleagues and students till the very last days of his prominent life. The worldwide recognition of his work in superconductivity followed his pioneering high-pressure synthesis of Nb3Si superconductor in 1978, as well as the design of Nb-based superconducting cables for high current applications. With great enthusiasm, he embarked on exploring Materials Science and Physics of High Temperature Superconductivity (HTS) from the first days of its discovery in 1986, making highly cited contributions to understanding of vortex pinning and structural properties of YBa2Cu3O7 thin films.

During his long scientific career, Vladimir has earned a lot of friends around the World, visiting different universities, research organizations and industries in Europe, United States, Japan and Australia. He was Visiting Professor at University of Goettingen and University of Leipzig (Germany), University of Wollongong (Australia), Ben-Gurion University (Israel), and many others.

His positive attitude towards life, inexhaustible enthusiasm and energy in every deed he initiated, endless optimism and sense of humor attracted a lot of young people into the field of science, including his own two sons.

Alexander Kordyuk for IMP and Alexey Pan


Øystein Håkon Fischer

March 9, 1942 to September 19, 2013
Leader in the study of superconductivity and pioneer in bringing science to youth, the public and industry: Øystein Håkon Fischer. Photo: Lionel Windels (2012).

Øystein Håkon Fischer Remembered

June 1, 2014 (PO28). Prof. Øystein Fischer, Honorary Professor at the University of Geneva, initiator and founding Director of the Swiss National Center of Competence in Research MaNEP - Materials with novel electronic properties - dedicated to exploring electronic materials of the future, passed away on 19 September 2013 at the age of 71. 

Øystein Fischer was born on March 9, 1942, in Bergen, Norway, where he went to school and grew up. His interest in science became obvious very early on when he set up a small chemistry laboratory under the stairwell in his parents’ house to mix various smelly and exploding cocktails. His scientific career started as a technical assistant at the research laboratory of Nera A/S in Bergen, Norway. In 1962, he moved to Switzerland to study physics at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich. There, he obtained a Diploma degree in theoretical physics in 1967, under the guidance of Prof. W. Baltensberger. He subsequently moved to the University of Geneva to join the group of Prof. M. Peter where he obtained, in 1971, his PhD degree in experimental physics. The same year he became an Assistant Professor in the Department of Condensed Matter Physics at the University of Geneva. He was promoted to full professorship in the same department in 1977. With characteristic humor, and with an ardent commitment to innovation, he then became one of the “gallopins” (scamps) in the department, a group of young professors with novel and bright ideas formed as a counter-weight to long established colleagues in the department. 

Øystein Fischer dedicated much of his career to studying superconductors, in an effort to understand their fundamental properties, and to develop new materials for applications. In 1975, he synthesized the first superconducting compounds (Chevrel phases) containing a regular lattice of magnetic ions (Europium) - a discovery which launched a decade of international research concerning the interaction between magnetism and superconductivity. This research culminated in 1984 with his discovery of magnetic field induced superconductivity in these same materials. This result was the first confirmed experimental evidence of the Jaccarino-Peter effect predicted in the sixties. 

His scientific work took a sharp turn with the discovery of high-temperature superconductivity (HTS) in the cuprates in 1986. He was on a one year visit as a Theodore H. Geballe professor at Stanford University when Bednorz and Müller made their groundbreaking discovery. Realizing its importance, Øystein traveled tirelessly between Stanford and Geneva to steer the research of his team from Chevrel phases to HTS. Airplanes became his second home. He initiated a sustained effort growing the first artificial superlattices of HTS cuprates which contributed to the now rapidly developing fields of oxide thin film heterostructures and oxide interface physics. 

In 1986, Øystein Fischer introduced scanning tunneling microscopy (STM) and scanning tunneling spectroscopy (STS) to Geneva. The last two decades of his research mainly focused on applying this technique to studying HTS materials. He and his team succeeded in obtaining the first reproducible tunneling spectroscopy measurements in HTS. This enabled them to observe the vortex cores and pseudogap in cuprate high-critical-temperature superconductors, highlighting the unexpected differences between these novel systems and classic superconductors. In 2012, Øystein Fischer was awarded the prestigious Kamerlingh Onnes prize for “leadership in magnetic superconductors and pioneering scanning tunneling microscopy studies in cuprate high-Tc materials.”

We both met Øystein Fischer as a teacher and fantastic mentor. Today, we mourn the loss of a valued colleague and a very dear friend. He was a relentless and contagious enthusiast. Spending an hour in his office after frustrating times in the laboratory struggling with difficult experiments was the best medicine. He was a nearly inexhaustible source of ideas and had the art of making the most unlikely of all experiments look obvious. He was certainly the expert in motivating his team for scientific projects, conference organization or big plans for new developments in Geneva.

His engagement in the community has been truly remarkable. Between 1983 and 1989, he was Vice President of the physics section in Geneva and later President of the section for 3 years. Between 1998 and 2004, he was the Vice-dean of the Faculty of science. He has also been a member of the National Research Council of the Swiss National Science Foundation for many years. In addition to his remarkable activities in research, Øystein's relentless commitment to physics in Geneva, and condensed matter physics in Switzerland and internationally was known to all. His drive as the director of MaNEP led to a remarkable development of collaborations between scientists in industry and academia. Never short of ideas, he explored different avenues to share his passion for science. He has been the initiator of the PhysiScope - an amazing platform allowing school students of different ages to participate in a selection of scientific adventures - as a way to share an enthusiasm for research, and make known to the youngest the fabulous scientific challenges that we face. He teamed up with Swiss artist Etiennne Krähenbühl to create an artwork staging superconducting levitation. Presented alongside a scientific exhibition, this sculpture has proven a unique way to reach a new public normally not attracted to science.

Committed to promoting local community development, Prof. Fischer was the initiator of the Geneva Creativity Center, which aims to stimulate exchanges between the academic and industrial sectors and to find solutions for the most challenging technological issues modern society is facing. He was also head of the project for ‘The Centre of Astronomical, Physical and Mathematical Sciences’ in Geneva, one of the leading projects of the University of Geneva. His vision for the future and the energy that he was able to put towards causes he championed were clearly exceptional.

Øystein Fischer was a very talented and much-appreciated teacher. He trained many undergraduates, PhD students, and postdocs. He received numerous awards and distinctions for his research, including ‘Doctor honoris causa’ from the University of Rennes in 1990; the Gunnar Randers Research Award in 2005; ‘Doctor honoris causa’ from the University of Neuchâtel also in 2005; and the endowed ‘Tage Erlander’ Chair from the Swedish Council for Research in 2009. He became an honorary member of the Swiss Physical Society in 2010.

The involvement of Øystein Fischer, the numerous projects he launched, and the ones still to be completed are a fantastic legacy for his younger colleagues in Geneva. We will certainly continue pushing to further develop the initiatives proposed by Øystein Fischer and to convey as much energy, passion, and enthusiasm as he did.

Prof. Christoph Renner and Prof. Jean-Marc Triscone

MaNEP-DPMC of the University of Geneva

The obituary was provided by our colleagues from the University of Geneva. Two editors of SNF mourn Øystein as an exceptional colleague and friend with an ever-lasting impact in our field who always conveyed enthusiasm.

Alex I. Braginski and Herbert C. Freyhardt


John Clem

January 1, 1938 to August 2, 2013
John R. Clem (photo of past decade)

John Clem Passed Away

August 7, 2013 (PO21).  Professor John R. Clem passed away on August 2, 2013, after a four year battle with mesothelioma. 

John was born in 1938 in Waukegan, Illinois; his parents were trained as teachers.  John received scholarships at the University of Illinois, where he obtained his undergraduate degree in engineering physics. John then earned his Ph.D. in superconductivity under John Bardeen.  After postdoctoral appointments in Maryland and München/Germany, John joined the Iowa State University Physics Department and Ames Laboratory in 1967 and enjoyed 46 years of collaboration with ISU and Ames Lab colleagues.  For the community of people dealing with a broad field of type-II superconductivity, John's name is and will always be associated with such hits as "pancake vortices", the term coined by John soon after the discovery of layered high-Tc cuprate superconductors.  John established and edited the tremendously successful and useful “High-Tc Update” from 1987 to 2000, well remembered by all participants in the high-Tc boom.  Among many other contributions to superconducting phenomenology, John’s papers on ac losses, edge pinning, flux-cutting, and recently on critical currents in superconducting thin-film strips of various shapes – a hot topic in superconducting electronics – will be remembered and cited in years to come.

John was also an avid vocalist, who enjoyed singing baritone on many occasions, conference banquets included. John is survived by his wife Judy Clem, his sister Caryl Clem, children Paul Clem and Jean (Clem) Latzke, and three grandchildren.  

By Vladimir Kogan, Ruslan Prozorov, and Doug Finnemore, Iowa State University, and Ames Lab

Two Editors of SNF mourn John as a good friend and source of inspiration. One of us (AIB) benefitted greatly from his advice and less-known theoretical work not mentioned in the obituary.

Alex I. Braginski and Herbert C. Freyhardt