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Bednorz, (Johannes) Georg

superconductivity müller theory zürich

[bed naw®ts] (1950– ) Swiss physicist: co-discoverer of a new class of superconductors.

Nobel prizes have usually been awarded many years after the work which led to them; but the Prize won by Bednorz and K A Müller (1927– ) of the IBM Zürich Research Laboratory at Rüschlikon in 1987 followed quickly on their work on novel electrical superconductors. Superconductivity, the absence of resistance shown by some metals near 0 K, had been observed by in 1911, and a theory for it was devised by and others (the BCS theory) in 1957. The effect was seen to be of immense value in electronic devices if materials could be found in which it occurs above, say, 77 K (the boiling point of liquid nitrogen, an easily obtainable temperature). In 1986, Bednorz and Müller showed that a mixed-phase oxide of lanthanum, barium and copper superconducted above 30 K, much above any previous temperature for this effect. A special meeting of the American Physical Society in New York in 1987 on superconductivity became known as ‘the Woodstock of physics’ and oxides of the type M-Ba-Cu-O (with M a rare earth metal, usually lanthanum or yttrium) were then announced which showed superconductivity up to 90 K.

Bednorz graduated at Münster in 1976 and worked for his doctorate under Müller at IBM Zürich, where he had joined the research staff in 1982.

[back] Beddoes, Thomas

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