Brian D. Josephson

Prof. Dr. Brian David Josephson

Nationality
United Kingdom 
Institution
University of Cambridge 
Award
1973 
Discipline
Physics 
Co-recipients
Profs. Ivar Giaever and Leo Esaki 

Biography on the Official Web Site of the Nobel Prize

CURRICULUM VITAE

According to quantum physics electrons behave both like particles and like waves, which can penetrate barriers that would obstruct its passage if the electron worked as a particle in the classical way. This property is known as ‘tunneling’.

Brian Josephson received one of the two 1973 physics prizes for his theoretical predictions of properties in a superconducting current fl owing through a tunnel barrier. Ivar Giaever (USA) and Leo Esaki (Japan) shared the other prize for their experimental discoveries regarding tunneling phenomena in superconductors and semiconductors respectively. Esaki, at Sony in Japan, led the way. He proved in 1958 the existence of a new kind of tunneling phenomenon in a semiconductor. In 1960 Giaever at General Electrics in the US demonstrated the tunnel effect through a very thin layer of oxide surrounded by metal in a superconducting or normal state.

These experiments inspired Brian Josephson – then a graduate student at Cambridge – to analyse the tunneling theory, which led him in 1962 to predict new phenomena in superconductors. Generally known as the Josephson effect this includes the phenomenon of a current flow across a very thin insulating barrier between two weakly coupled superconductors, known as a Josephson junction, The DC Josephson effect refers to a current flow crossing the insulator owing to tunneling even when no voltage is applied. With a fixed voltage across the junction a high-frequency tunnel current is observed. His predictions were later confirmed by experiments and have caused a revision of the values of the fundamental constants, a new method for measuring voltages and magnetic fields and an extremely sensitive interferometric method. Using Josephson’s discoveries, researchers at IBM created computer switches that increased speeds from 10 to 100 times faster than conventional silicon-based chips, vastly increasing data processing capabilities.

Brian David Josephson was born in Cardiff, Wales, in 1940. He entered Trinity College, Cambridge, and received his BA in physics in 1960, followed by his MA and PhD in 1964. He published his first work, dealing with aspects of the special theory of relativity and the Mössbauer effect, while still an undergraduate. He was elected a Fellow of Trinity in 1962, the same year he published his theories on tunneling. After his PhD, Josephson served as a research professor at the University of Illinois, US, from 1965–66 and in 1967 returned to Cambridge as assistant director of research. He was elected a fellow of the Royal Society in 1970. He retired in 2007 as a professor at Cambridge and is now emeritus professor. Presently he serves as director of the mind-matter unification project in the Theory of Condensed Matter research group. Brian and his wife Carol have one daughter.


This text and the picture of the Nobel Laureate were taken from the book: "NOBELS. Nobel Laureates photographed by Peter Badge" (WILEY-VCH, 2008).

Brian Josephson is part of the exhibition project "Sketches of Science" by Volker Steger

Exhibition "Sketches of Science" by Volker Steger - Locations & Dates


Brian Josephson's Sketch of Science
Brian Josephson's Sketch of Science


By Volker Steger

Brian Josephson has a reputation for being notoriously brilliant but
also for taking on controversial subjects such as telepathy and the
relation of mind and matter. I am very curious
what this will yield in my studio!
Well, he sketches a very straight-forward illustration of the
Josephson effect, his Nobel discovery. When I think about it, this
sketch is a proper Mind-Matter Unification project!

Brian Josephson ist berühmt-berüchtigt für seine Brillianz, aber auch
dafür, sich umstrittener Themen wie Telepathie oder der Beziehung von
Geist und Materie anzunehmen. Ich bin sehr gespannt,
wozu das in meinem Studio führen wird.
Nun, er zeichnet eine sehr klare Illustration des Josephson-Effekts, seiner
Entdeckung. Wenn ich darüber nachdenke, so ist seine Zeichnung ein
wahrliches Mind-Matter Unification-Projekt.

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