Trivia

Hard

Which Laboratory Boasts The Most Nobel Prize Winners?

Xerox PARC
Bell Laboratories
IBM Research Laboratories
GE Research Laboratories
Lucent Headquarters in Murray Hill, New Jersey.
Blaxthos/Wikimedia

Answer: Bell Laboratories

While there are many notable laboratories around the world, such as the cradle of computer innovation Xerox PARC, no laboratory can lay claim to the kind of scientific pedigree you will find at Bell Laboratories. A total of 9 Nobel Prizes have been awarded to Bell Labs researchers. Here are the awards, in chronological order:

1937 – Awarded to Clinton J. Davisson for demonstrating the wave nature of matter.

1956 – Awarded to John Bardeen, Walter H. Brattain, and William Shockley for inventing the first transistors.

1977 – Awarded to Philip W. Anderson (who shared it with non-Bell Labs scientists Sir Nevill F. Mott and John H. Van Vleck) for the development of an improved understanding of the electronic structure of glass and magnetic materials.

1978 – Awarded to Arno A. Penzias and Robert W. Wilson for the discovery of cosmic microwave background radiation (a nearly uniform glow that fills the Universe in the microwave band of the radio spectrum).

1997 – Awarded to Steven Chu (who shared it with non-Bell Labs scientists Claude Cohen-Tannoudji and William D. Phillips) for the development of methods to cool and trap atoms using laser light.

1998 – Awarded to Horst Störmer, Robert Laughlin, and Daniel Tsui for the discovery of a new form of quantum fluid with fractionally charged excitations.

2009 – Awarded to Willard S. Boyle and George E. Smith for the invention of charge-coupled device (CCD) semiconductor imaging sensors.

2014 – Awarded to Eric Betzig (who shared it with non-Bell Labs scientists Stefan Hell and William E. Moerner) for the development of super-resolved fluorescence microscopy.

2018 – Awarded to Arthur Ashkin (who shared it with non-Bell Labs scientists Gérard A. Mourou and Donna T. Strickland) for groundbreaking inventions in the field of laser physics.

Nobel Prizes aside, Bell Laboratories has given birth to all manner of inventions over the years including the 56K modem, CDMA digital cellular telephone technology, the UNIX operating system, and more. A stroll through Bell Laboratories’ Discoveries and Developments entry on Wikipedia is like a stroll through a 20th century Invention Hall of Fame.

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