Bertram Neville Brockhouse

Bertram Neville Brockhouse, physicist (born 15 July 1918 in Lethbridge, AB; died 13 October 2003 in Hamilton, ON). Brockhouse pioneered the use of thermal neutrons to study structural, dynamical and magnetic aspects of the behaviour of condensed matter systems at an atomic level.

Bertram Neville Brockhouse

Bertram Neville Brockhouse, physicist (born 15 July 1918 in Lethbridge, AB; died 13 October 2003 in Hamilton, ON). Brockhouse pioneered the use of thermal neutrons to study structural, dynamical and magnetic aspects of the behaviour of condensed matter systems at an atomic level. After studying at UBC and U of T, he worked at the Chalk River Nuclear Laboratories from 1950 to 1962, and then as professor of physics at McMaster U.

At Chalk River he developed sophisticated thermal neutron-scattering equipment and experimental methods: in particular, he invented the triple-axis crystal spectrometer, which is now used in neutron-scattering research laboratories worldwide for detailed investigations of excitations in a very broad range of materials. He performed many pioneering experiments, including measurements of atomic vibrational modes in metals, semiconductors and insulators, frequency spectra in a variety of liquids, and magnetic excitation spectra ("spin waves") in various magnetic compounds. His influence on the field of condensed matter research has been profound.

The research he pioneered led to other advancements, several of which have received Nobel prizes. Brockhouse, too, won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1994, some 35 years after his pioneering work. He was appointed professor emeritus at McMaster U in 1984.


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