Bertram Brockhouse

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Bertram Brockhouse.

Bertram Neville Brockhouse , CC , FRS , FRSC (born July 15, 1918 in Lethbridge , Alberta , † October 13, 2003 in Hamilton , Ontario ) was a Canadian physicist . He received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1994 .


Bertram Brockhouse was the second of four children of the married couple Israel Bertram and Mable Emily Brockhouse (née Neville). He spent the first few years of his life near Milk River before the family moved to Vancouver in late 1926 , where he graduated from King George High School in 1935. Shortly thereafter, due to the poor conditions during the recession , the family moved to Chicago , where he earned his living as a laboratory assistant and repairing radios. Since the general situation of the family in Chicago had not improved, they moved again to Vancouver in 1938. After the outbreak of World War II , he volunteered for the Royal Canadian Navy , completed an electrical engineering course at Nova Scotia Technical College in 1944 and served until the end of the war, where he was mainly involved in the maintenance of ASDIC equipment, the forerunner of sonar .

After the war he began in late 1945 with support from the Department of Veterans' Affairs at the University of British Columbia with the math - and physics studies . After attaining the BA degree (intermediate diploma) in 1947, he moved to the low-temperature laboratory of the University of Toronto , where he received his diploma after the then usual time of eight months. In 1949/50 he was a lecturer there . After receiving his doctorate in 1950 (with the dissertation The effect of stress and temperature upon the magnetic properties of ferromagnetic materials ) he got a job at Chalk River Laboratories , the Canadian nuclear research facility, and in 1960 became head of the neutron physics department . In 1952 he spent a year at Brookhaven National Laboratory . In 1962 he moved to McMaster University in Hamilton (Ontario) as a professor of physics , where he stayed until his retirement in 1984. From 1967 to 1970 he headed the physics faculty.

In May 1947 he married the film technician Doris Isobel Mary Miller, whom he had met towards the end of his military service. The two have six children, including the molecular biologist Charles Brockhouse . His hobby were operettas and musicals. He has appeared in amateur productions of operettas by Gilbert and Sullivan .


Bertram Brockhouse worked at the Chalk River Laboratory, where the first nuclear reactor outside the USA was built in 1946 , with neutron scattering . At first he worked there under DG Hurst. The NRX reactor in Chalk River was the reactor with the highest neutron flux in the world until 1953. He built the first three-axis spectrometer for neutrons and mainly dealt with the measurement of phonon dispersions through inelastic neutron scattering. In 1955 he succeeded in recording the first dispersion curve for phonons, recorded for an aluminum crystal. Soon after, he turned to the study of spin waves in magnetite crystals and discovered the magnons (that is, he recorded their dispersion curve). Also in 1957 he introduced his Rotating Crystal Spectrometer, a high-resolution spectrometer with time-of-flight measurement, and in 1958 the C5 Triple Axis Spectrometer, used for over 20 years on the Chalk River NRU reactor, was installed on which many neutron spectroscopists were trained. In 1957 his group made the first measurements on semiconductors (germanium). His group also studied liquids and liquid helium with neutron scattering, and in 1961 experimentally demonstrated the Kohn anomaly .

Bertram Brockhouse was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1994 together with Clifford Shull “for their development of techniques for the scattering of the uncharged nuclear particles” (which means neutrons).

Awards (selection)

He was a Fellow of the Royal Society of Canada and a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. In 1982 he became an Officer of the Order of Canada (OC) and in 1995 Companion (CC). He was an honorary doctor from McMaster University and the University of Waterloo.


  • Bertram N. Brockhouse , in: Internationales Biographisches Archiv 03/2004 of January 5, 2004, in the Munzinger archive ( beginning of the article freely available)
  • John RD Copley: Bertram Nevil Brockhouse . In: Physica B , Volume 136, 1986, p. Xxvii

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. ^ BN Brockhouse, AT Stewart: Scattering of Neutrons by Phonons in an Aluminum Single Crystal . In: Physical Review , Volume 100, 1955, p. 756
  2. Brockhouse: Scattering of Neutrons by Spin Waves in Magnetite . In: Physical Review , Vol. 106, No. 5, 1957, pp. 859-864
  3. ^ Known for example from Kittel Introduction to Solid State Physics . 7th edition. Wiley 1996, p. 111 (illustration)
  4. Brockhouse, PK Iyengar: Normal Modes of Germanium by Neutron . In: Phys. Rev. , Volume 111, 1958, p. 747, Erratum Volume 113, 1959, p. 1696
  5. Brockhouse, KR Rao., ADB Woods. In: Phys. Rev. Lett. , Volume 7, 1961, p. 93, Brockhouse et al. a. In: Phys. Rev. , Volume 128, 1962, p. 93