20 January: David Morris Lee an American physicist was born

OV Digital Desk
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David Lee

David Morris Lee (born 20 January 1931) is an American physicist. He received the 1996 Nobel Prize in Physics.

Life and Career

He was born on 20 January 1931, in Rye, New York. In 1952, he graduated from Harvard University. Then, he received a master’s degree from the University of Connecticut and a Ph.D. in physics from Yale University in 1959.

He joined Cornell University in 1959, became a professor in 1968, and was made professor emeritus in 2007. He started the Laboratory of Atomic and Solid-State Physics at Cornell University. Soon after, he started teaching at Texas A&M.

For their research in the Cornell low-temperature laboratory, Lee and Richardson built a special cooling apparatus. Richardson, Osheroff, and Lee used Pomeranchuk cells in the 1970s to study 3He’s behavior at temperatures within a few thousandths of a degree of absolute zero. They discovered superfluidity in helium-3 by accident in 1972. Since they discovered superfluidity in helium-3, scientists have been able to observe quantum mechanical effects directly in macroscopic (visible) systems that had previously only been studied indirectly in molecules, atoms, and subatomic particles.

On 16 November 2009, Lee moved his lab from Cornell to Texas A&M University.

Major Work

His most famous work is in low-temperature physics, especially his discovery of superfluidity in helium-3 with Douglas D. Osheroff and Robert C. Richardson. He also performed important research related to liquid, solid, and superfluid helium.


The Nobel Prize in Physics 1996 was jointly awarded to Lee, Osheroff, and Richardson “for discovering superfluidity in helium-3.”

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