Member of National Academy of Engineering,
National Academy of Sciences, and The Royal Society
Research Professor
Materials Science & Engineering
Phone: (908)464-6994


John Rowell joined Bell Laboratories in 1961 after carrying out his graduate studies at Oxford University on impurity conduction (now known as the metal-insulator transition) in germanium. Soon afterwards, with P. W. Anderson, he made the first observation of the Josephson Effect, and demonstrated the magnetic field sensitivity of the Josephson current. He held the first patent granted for logic applications of the Josephson Effect. With W.L. McMillan, he developed tunneling spectroscopy, a measurement technique that determines in detail the electron-phonon interaction that causes superconductivity, at least in the low-Tc materials. In a collaboration with J. Geerk, M. Gurvitch and M. Washington, he invented the trilayer niobium/aluminum process that is now the basis of all low-Tc digital electronics and magnetic sensors. In 1978 he received the Fritz London Memorial Low Temperature Physics Prize for his work on the Josephson Effect, tunneling and superconductivity. He held a series of management positions at Bell Laboratories and became Director of the Chemical Physics Laboratory in 1981. In 1983, just prior to the divesture of the Bell System, he joined Bell Communications Research (Bellcore) as Assistant Vice President, Solid State Science and Technology. He was responsible for guiding the growth of this laboratory from its beginning, including both personnel and facilities. The technical programs of the laboratory included materials research, optoelectronics, optical switching, high speed electronics and high- Tc superconductivity. He joined Conductus, a start-up superconducting electronics company, in 1989 as Chief Technical Officer, and served as President of the company for the year of 1991. Since 1995, he has been a consultant specializing in applied superconductivity and the superconductor industry. In 1997 he was appointed as the Materials Institute Professor at Northwestern University. He has served on numerous review boards and committees, for example at the National Science Foundation, and has testified before Congress on research and technology funding issues. He is a Fellow of the American Physical Society, and was elected a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1989. He became a member of the National Academy of Sciences in 1994, and of the National Academy of Engineering in 1995.


Ph.D. Physics, Oxford University (1961)
M.A. Physics, Oxford University (1961)
B.A. Physics, Oxford University (1957)

Research Interests


Graduate Faculties

  • Materials Science & Engineering

Honors and Awards

  • Fritz London Memorial Low Temperature Physics Prize
  • Fellow of the American Physical Society
  • Fellow of the Royal Society
  • National Academy of Sciences
  • National Academy of Engineering