Ceremony will celebrate new stamp for John Bardeen

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By James E. Kloeppel, U of I News Bureau
March 3, 2008

  • A stamp commemorating the achievements of two time Nobel Prize-winner and ECE faculty member John Bardeen will be released.
  • Bardeen is one of four American scientists this year to be honored with a stamp.
  • "John Bardeen was one of the greatest scientists of the 20th century," said Nick Holonyak Jr., the John Bardeen Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Physics.
Bardeen Stamp
Bardeen Stamp

A stamp commemorating the achievements of former ECE faculty member and two-time Nobel Prize-winner John Bardeen will be unveiled at a ceremony on campus Thursday, March 6.

The U. of I. Physics Department will host Urbana Postmaster Kathleen J. Burr, regional U.S. Postal Service officials, University administrators, and family and friends of Bardeen (1908-1991) at the ceremony. The event is free and open to the public. It will begin at 12:15 p.m., in room 144 of Loomis Laboratory, 1110 W. Green St., Urbana.

One of four American scientists being honored this year, Bardeen was recognized for his co-invention of the transistor and his contribution to the first fundamental explanation of superconductivity. For each of these achievements, Bardeen was awarded a Nobel Prize. (The other scientists being recognized are biochemist Gerty Cori, chemist Linus Pauling, and astronomer Edwin Hubble.)

"John Bardeen was one of the greatest scientists of the 20th century," said Nick Holonyak Jr., the John Bardeen Professor of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Physics. Holonyak, who invented the first practical light-emitting diode and currently is developing transistor lasers, was Bardeenís first graduate student.

"Bardeen was arguably the greatest master ever of the quantum theory of the conductivity of solids, which is at the core, the very heart of all of electronics," Holonyak said. "Legendary names in physics failed for almost 50 years in explaining the mystery of superconductivity until the successful Bardeen attack on the problem, which also introduced revolutionary particle-pairing notions into all of physics.

"Perhaps more vital to everyone on the planet is the transistor, and all it has spawned," Holonyak said. "No one sought so little for himself, gave so much, and was so generous and considerate of his fellow man."

To mark the event, the Champaign-Urbana Stamp Club has created a first-day cover, incorporating a cachet featuring drawings of Bardeen and Loomis Laboratory, created by local artist Jason Pankoke, and bearing the stamp and a special first-day Urbana cancel. These will be available after the ceremony for $3 each.

Editor's note: media inquiries should be directed to Brad Petersen, Director of Communications, at bradp@illinois.edu or (217) 244-6376.

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