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John Robert Schrieffer

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