22 March: Remembering Burton Richter on Birthday

Suman Kumar
3 Min Read
Burton Richter

Burton Richter (22 March 1931 – 18 July 2018) was an American physicist. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1976.

Life and Career

He was born on 22 March 1931, in Brooklyn, New York, U.S. He received his undergraduate degree in physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1952. He then went on to pursue a Ph.D. in physics from the University of California, Berkeley, which he received in 1956.

During his time at Berkeley, Richter worked on the cyclotron, a particle accelerator that allowed for the production of high-energy particles for use in nuclear physics research. After completing his Ph.D., Richter went on to work at the Brookhaven National Laboratory and then at the University of Oxford as a research fellow.

He then joined the faculty of the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC) at Stanford University in 1956.

In 1974, Richter and his team at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC) discovered a new subatomic particle called the J/psi particle, which provided strong evidence for the existence of the charm quark. This discovery was a major breakthrough in the field of particle physics and led to a Nobel Prize in Physics in 1976, which Richter shared with Samuel Ting.

In addition to his work on the J/psi particle, Richter made significant contributions to the study of weak interactions in particle physics, and he helped to develop new particle detectors and accelerator technologies.

He also served as the director of the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC) from 1984 to 1999, during which time he oversaw the construction and operation of several major research facilities.

Later in his career, Richter became an advocate for energy conservation and sustainability, and he played a key role in the establishment of the Global Climate and Energy Project (GCEP) at Stanford, which is focused on developing new technologies for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and improving energy efficiency.

He was a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and a fellow of the American Physical Society, among other honors.

He died on 18 July 2018, in Stanford, California, U.S.


He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1976, which he shared with Samuel Ting.

He received numerous other awards and honors throughout his career, including the National Medal of Science, the Enrico Fermi Award, and the Benjamin Franklin Medal in Physics, among others.

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