J. Georg Bednorz Biography

J. Georg Bednorz is a German physicist who won a share of the 1987 Nobel Prize in Physics. This biography of J. Georg Bednorz provides detailed information about his childhood, life, achievements, works & timeline.

Quick Facts

Also Known As: Johannes Georg Bednorz ,Georg Bednorz

Famous as: Physicist

Nationality: German

Birthday: May 16, 1950

Age: 68 Years

Sun Sign: Taurus

Born in: Neuenkirchen, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany

father: Anton Bednorz

mother: Elisabeth Bednorz

Spouse/Ex-spouse: Mechthild Wennemer

More Facts

awards: Marcel Benoist Prize (1986)
Nobel Prize in Physics (1987)

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J. Georg Bednorz is a German physicist who won a share of the 1987 Nobel Prize in Physics. In collaboration with Swiss physicist, K. Alex Müller, he performed significant work in high-temperature superconductivity in ceramic materials. The son of teachers, he developed an early interest in tinkering with motorcycles and cars. As a teenager, he honed his artistic side and started playing the violin and later the trumpet in the school orchestra. He was also interested in science, and being practical minded, he found performing chemistry experiments to be more interesting than studying the theoretical aspects of physics. He enrolled at the University of Münster to study chemistry but soon shifted to the less popular field of crystallography, a subfield of mineralogy. In 1972, his teachers arranged for him to join the IBM Zürich Research Laboratory for three months as a summer student. It was during this time that he met his future collaborator K. Alex Müller. After completing his graduation and later doctorate, Bednorz joined Müller's ongoing research on superconductivity at the IBM. Their collaboration led to major findings in the field and the duo jointly discovered superconductivity in ceramic materials at temperatures higher than had previously been thought attainable, a work which earned them the 1987 Nobel Prize in Physics.

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J. Georg Bednorz
Childhood & Early Life
  • Johannes Georg Bednorz was born in Neuenkirchen, North-Rhine Westphalia, in the Federal Republic of Germany on May 16, 1950, as the fourth child of Anton and Elisabeth Bednorz. His father was a primary school teacher while his mother taught piano.
  • When he was a young boy, his parents tried to make him interested in music. But he was more interested in tinkering with his elder brothers’ motorcycles and cars. However, he became interested in music during his teenage.
  • He loved science—especially chemistry—from a young age. In 1968, he enrolled at the University of Münster to study chemistry but did not enjoy the experience. So he shifted his major to crystallography, a field of mineralogy.
  • He was a bright student. In 1972, his teachers, Wolfgang Hoffmann and Horst Böhm, arranged for him to spend the summer at the IBM Zurich Research Laboratory as a visiting student. There he met K. Alex Müller, the head of the physics department who would become his collaborator in future.
  • Deeply inspired by his intellectually-stimulating stay and work at Zurich, he returned in 1973 and again in 1974, for a period of six months. During this time he grew crystals of SrTiO3, a ceramic material belonging to the family of perovskites, and received much encouragement for his work from Müller.
  • He completed his master’s degree from Münster in 1977 and began his Ph.D. at the ETH Zurich (Swiss Federal Institute of Technology) under supervision of Heini Gränicher and Alex Müller. He received his doctorate in 1982.
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  • Following his doctorate he joined the IBM Zürich Research Laboratory to work with Müller on the latter’s studies of superconductivity. In 1983, the two men began their systematic study on the investigation of metallic oxides with the goal to develop superconductors with high transition temperatures.
  • Over the course of their study they experimented on the electrical properties of ceramics formed from transition metal oxides. It was Bednorz who was the experimenter in charge of the actual making and testing of the oxides.
  • By 1986, they had succeeded in inducing superconductivity in a lanthanum barium copper oxide (LaBaCuO, also known as LBCO). The oxide’s critical temperature was 35 K, a full 12 K higher than the highest temperature at which superconductivity had previously been achieved in any substance.
  • Their discovery generated a great deal of interest in high-temperature superconductivity, leading to a lot of additional research on cuprate materials with structures similar to LBCO, soon leading to the discovery of compounds such as BSCCO and YBCO.
  • The two scientists’ groundbreaking work earned them the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1987. In the same year Bednorz was appointed an IBM Fellow.
  • Since then he has been focusing on the development of new complex oxide compounds and their specific modification for possible implementation in microelectronics. He has a specific interest in the behavior of thin epitaxial layers, in particular metal-insulator-metal heterostructures, in strong electric fields.
Major Works
  • Georg Bednorz, in collaboration with Alex Müller, discovered high-temperature superconductors, materials that behave as superconductors at unusually high temperatures. Bednorz was the experimenter in charge of the actual making and testing of the oxides that were used in the experiments leading to this discovery.
Awards & Achievements
  • In 1986, the Marcel Benoist Prize, offered by the Marcel Benoist Foundation was given to Georg Bednorz and K. Alex Müller.
  • Georg Bednorz and K. Alex Müller were awarded the 1987 Nobel Prize in Physics "for their important break-through in the discovery of superconductivity in ceramic materials."
  • Bednorz is the recipient of James C. McGroddy Prize for New Materials (1988) and Minnie Rosen Award (1988).
Personal Life & Legacy
  • He is married to fellow scientist, Mechthild Wennemer, whom he first met in 1974 during their time together at the University of Münster.

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How To Cite

Article Title
- J. Georg Bednorz Biography
- Editors, TheFamousPeople.com
- TheFamousPeople.com
Last Updated
- October 04, 2017

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