David Lee (physicist)

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David Morris Lee
Nobel Laureate David Morris Lee in 2007.jpg
David Morris Lee in 2007
Born (1931-01-20) January 20, 1931 (age 91)
Rye, New York
Fields Physics
Institutions Cornell University
Texas A&M University (2009-present)
Alma mater Yale University
University of Connecticut
Harvard University
Doctoral advisor Henry A. Fairbank
Notable awards Nobel Prize in Physics (1996)
Oliver Buckley Prize (1981)
Sir Francis Simon Memorial Prize (1976)
Oliver E. Buckley Condensed Matter Prize (1970)
Spouse Dana (2 children)

David Morris Lee (born January 20, 1931) is an American physicist who shared the 1996 Nobel Prize in Physics with Robert C. Richardson and Douglas Osheroff "for their discovery of superfluidity in helium-3."[1]

Personal life

Lee was born and raised in Rye, New York.[2] His parents, Annette (Franks), a teacher, and Marvin Lee, an electrical engineer, were children of Jewish immigrants from England and Lithuania. He graduated from Harvard University in 1952 and then joined the U.S. Army for 22 months. After being discharged from the army, he obtained a master's degree from the University of Connecticut. In 1955 Lee entered the Ph.D. program at Yale University where he worked under Henry A. Fairbank in the low-temperature physics group, doing experimental research on liquid 3He.

After graduating from Yale in 1959, Lee took a job at Cornell University, where he was responsible for setting up the new Laboratory of Atomic and Solid State Physics. Shortly after arriving at Cornell he met his future wife, Dana, then a PhD student in another department; the couple went on to have two sons.

Lee moved his laboratory from Cornell to Texas A&M University on November 16, 2009.[3][4][5]


The work that led to Lee's Nobel Prize was performed in the early 1970s. Lee, together with Robert C. Richardson and graduate student, Doug Osheroff used a Pomeranchuk cell to investigate the behaviour of 3He at temperatures within a few thousandths of a degree of absolute zero. They discovered unexpected effects in their measurements, which they eventually explained as phase transitions to a superfluid phase of 3He.[6][7] Lee, Richardson and Osheroff were jointly awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1996 for this discovery.

Lee's research also covered a number of other topics in low-temperature physics, particularly relating to liquid, solid and superfluid helium (4He, 3He and mixtures of the two). Particular discoveries include the antiferromagnetic ordering in solid helium-3, nuclear spin waves in spin polarized atomic hydrogen gas with Jack H. Freed, and the tri-critical point on the phase separation curve of liquid 4He-3He, in collaboration with his Cornell colleague John Reppy. His former research group at Cornell currently studies impurity-helium solids.

As well as the Nobel Prize, other prizes won by Lee include the 1976 Sir Francis Simon Memorial Prize of the British Institute of Physics and the 1981 Oliver Buckley Prize of the American Physical Society along with Doug Osheroff and Robert Richardson for their superfluid 3He work.

Lee is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Lee is currently teaching physics at Texas A&M University and continuing his (formerly Cornell-based) research program there as well.

See also


  1. "The Nobel Prize in Physics 1996". Nobel Foundation. Retrieved 2009-10-04.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  2. Biography on the Nobel Foundation website
  3. http://media.www.thebatt.com/media/storage/paper657/news/2009/10/01/News/Nobel.Prize.Winner.Joins.Am.Faculty-3788924.shtml
  4. http://www.chron.com/disp/story.mpl/hotstories/6643911.html
  5. http://www.science.tamu.edu/articles/684/
  6. Osheroff, DD; RC Richardson; DM Lee (1972-04-03). "Evidence for a New Phase of Solid He3". Physical Review Letters. American Physical Society. 28 (14): 885–888. Bibcode:1972PhRvL..28..885O. doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.28.885.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>
  7. Osheroff, DD; WJ Gully; RC Richardson; DM Lee (1972-10-02). "New Magnetic Phenomena in Liquid He3 below 3mK". Physical Review Letters. American Physical Society. 29 (14): 920–923. Bibcode:1972PhRvL..29..920O. doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.29.920.<templatestyles src="Module:Citation/CS1/styles.css"></templatestyles>

External links