John P. Schiffer


Office: (630) 252-4066
FAX: (630) 252-2864
[email protected]

John Schiffer


High School Fasori Evangélikus Gimnázium,
Budapest, Hungary
(emigrated to U.S. 1947)
B.A. Oberlin College (1948-51) 1951 (physics)
M.Sc. Yale University 1952
Ph.D. Yale University
"Energy Levels of Ca Isotopes"
(with Ernest Pollard)


Research Associate
(with Tom Bonner)
The Rice Institute 1954-56
Assistant Physicist Argonne National Laboratory 1956-60
Associate Physicist 1960-64
Senior Physicist 1964-present
Associate Director ANL Physics Division 1964-2000
Director 1979-82
Interim Director 1999-2000
Professor of Physics
(joint appt.)
University of Chicago 1969-2000
Prof. of Physics
Visiting Appointments
Guggenheim Fellow AERE Harwell, England 1959-60
Visiting Assoc. Prof. Princeton University 1964
Visiting Prof. University of Rochester 1967-68
Visiting Prof. Technical University Munich 1973-74


Fellow APS(1968), AAAS (1984), NAS (1987), American Acad. of Arts and Sciences (1998), Royal Danish Academy of Arts and Sciences (1996)
Other Guggenheim Fellow, 1959; Humboldt Award, 1973; Bonner Prize (APS), 1975; Wilbur Cross Medal (Yale), 1985; Dr. Sc. (hon) University of Notre Dame, 1999.

Professional Committees and Offices

NAS/NRC: Panel on the Future of Nuclear Physics, 1975; Committee on Nuclear Physics, 1996-99; Neutrino Facilities Assessment Committee, 2002, etc.  
APS/Division of Nucl. Physics: Executive Comm. 1972-77, chair DNP, 1975-76, Divisional Councilor, 1997-99, etc.
AAAS: Member of Council 1989-94, chair Section B (physics) 1992-93.
DOE/NSF: NSAC 1981-85, chair, 83-85; Chair of Subcomm. on the Implementation of the Long Range Plan 1991, etc.
NSF: Physics Advisory Panel, 1971-73; etc.
Accelerator Program Advisory Committees: LAMPF 1971-73; IUCF 74-77; Bevalac 78-80; AGS 79-82; SIN/PSI 80-84; MIT-Bates 84-87; CEBAF 86-91; GSI 87-88; RIKEN 98-; etc.
Conference Organizer (chair or primary role): Direct Nuclear Reactions, ANL 1964; Chair, Gordon Conference on Nuclear Physics, 1974; Symposium on Delta Nucleus Dynamics, ANL 1983; etc.
Other: White House Forum on Science in the National Interest, 1994; RIKEN Advisory Council, 1996-2003; etc.

Research Interests

My primary interests have been in trying to understand the single-particle structure and effective interactions that underlie the structure of structure of atomic nuclei. This entails calibrating reaction mechanisms to best extract the relevant information. Some of this work was done a long time ago - and some recently - particularly with a focus on how these nuclear properties might change as nuclei move further away from stability.

An additional interest of mine has been to investigate 'exotic' phenomena that are associated with nuclear physics. Among these (and the only one that turned out to be real) was the Mössbauer effect. When I first heard of it (a small effect in 191Ir) we were incredulous but then Argonne was were the first to repeat this successfully. Shortly after this I came across 57Fe, and from this a whole industry emerged; I worked on relativistic red-shift measurements. After quarks were first proposed by Gell-Mann, I spent a fair amount of effort in looking for stable fractional charges in Nature - including sea water, the atmosphere, meteorites, and moon dust, and on trying to reproduce some positive experiments in this regard - we found none. After that came the 'GSI positron lines' reported from the collisions between very heavy nuclei, and our work with APEX could not confirm the reported phenomena. I did some work on cold fusion. Recently the reported 'triggered decay' of an isomer in Hf by x-rays, lead to speculations about new method of airplane propulsion and of other uses. We found no such effect. We also set a limit on helium-like strangelets in nature.

I am currently involved with a number of measurements with unstable light nuclei that are of interest both for nuclear structure and related to microscopic ab origine theoretical predictions of nuclear properties and for astrophysical interests. I have proposed a new scheme for charged-particle detection from reactions in inverse kinematics (that is required with radioactive beams) a technique that could overcome many of the current difficulties encountered in such measurements. The scheme requires a large super-conducting solenoid and methods of obtaining such a solenoid and detector array are being pursued.

An interest that grew out of nuclear physics is in the simulation of very cold plasmas such as can be obtained in ion traps and storage rings and the properties of such plasmas properties associated with crystallization.

Recent Publications

"Study of the 56Ni(d,p)57Ni reaction..." K. E. Rehm et al., Phys. Rev. Lett. 80, 676 (1998).

"Temperature, ordering, and equilibrium with time-dependent confining forces" J. P. Schiffer et al., Proc. Nat. Ac. Sc. 97, 10697 (2000).

"Melting of crystalline confined plasmas", J. P. Schiffer, Phys. Rev. Lett. 88, 205003 (2002).

"Search for anomalously heavy isotopes of helium..." P. Mueller et al., Phys. Rev. Lett. 92, 022501 (2004).

"Is the nuclear spin-orbit interaction changing with neutron excess" J. P. Schiffer et al., Phys. Rev. Lett. 92, 162501 (2004).

"Laser spectroscopic determination of the 6He charge radius" L.-B. Wang et al., Phys. Rev. Lett. 93, 142501 (2004).

"A solenoidal transport device for reactions in inverse kinematics" A. H. Wuosmaa et al., Nucl. Phys. A746 (2004).

"Search for x-ray induced decay of the 31-yr isomer of 178Hf..." I. Ahmad et al., Phys. Rev. C 71, 024311 (2005).

"Neutron spectroscopic factors in 9Li ..." A. H. Wuosmaa et al., Phys. Rev. Lett. accepted for publication.