Charles P Slichter

Professor Emeritus


Charles P Slichter
311 Loomis Laboratory

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Professor Charles Slichter, internationally recognized in condensed matter physics, is one of the world's top research scientists in the area of magnetic resonance and has been a leading innovator in applications of resonance techniques to understanding the structure of matter. Professor Slichter's deep physical insight and elegant experimental mastery have allowed him to make seminal contributions to an extraordinarily broad range of problems of great theoretical interest and technological importance in physics and chemistry.

Professor Slichter received his A.B. (1946), M.A. (1947), and Ph.D. (1949) degrees from Harvard University, all in physics. During World War II, he worked as a research assistant at the Underwater Explosives Research Laboratory at Woods Hole, Massachusetts, while an undergraduate at Harvard. He came to the University of Illinois in 1949 as an instructor in physics; he was promoted to assistant professor in 1951, to associate professor in 1954, and to full professor in 1955.

He was elected to the National Academy of Sciences in 1967, to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1969, and to the American Philosophical Society in 1971. In 2007, Professor Slichter was awarded the National Medal of Science. He has received the Langmuir Prize in Chemical Physics (American Physical Society, 1969), the Triennial Prize (International Society of Magnetic Resonance [ISMAR], 1986), the Comstock Prize (National Academy of Sciences, 1993), and the Oliver E. Buckley Prize in Condensed Matter Physics (American Physical Society, 1996). He received an honorary Doctor of Science degree from the University of Waterloo in 1993, and an honorary Doctor of Laws (LL.D.) degree from Harvard University in 1996. In 2010, he received an honorary Doctor of Science degree from the University of Leipzig.

Although he retired from teaching in 1996, Professor Slichter maintains an active research program and remains a vital presence in our department. His textbook, Principles of Magnetic Resonance, now in its third printing, has served as the standard in the field for three and a half decades. He has directed the Ph.D. research of 63 Illinois graduates, a group that is contributing immeasurably to industry and academia.


Tree of Scholarship

Listen to Professor Slichter's talk on NMR and the BCS Theory, presented at the American Physical Society's 2008 March Meeting session on the 50th Anniversary of Physical Review Letters.

Research Statement

Nuclear Magnetic Resonance in Solids
We probe magnetic and electric fields at the atomic level by NMR to study many-body effects, phase transitions, magnetism, solids possessing unusual properties, and electronic and structural aspects of surface atoms and absorbed molecules (including catalysis). Examples: Solids (1) High- temperature superconductors, for which NMR provides detailed information about both the normal and superconducting states. (2) Charge density waves (NMR of NbSe3 ) including study of the motion under applied electric fields. Surfaces (1) Electronic properties of the surface layer of atoms of Pt particles, by 195 Pt NMR. (2) Quantum effects arising from the small size of the metal particles. (3) Bonding and structure of molecules (e.g., CO, C2 H2 ) adsorbed on Pt, by 13C NMR. (4) Special methods: 1H, 13C double resonance to monitor breaking of the C-H bond.

NMR Studies of High-Temperature Superconductors
NMR has proved to be an important tool to study superconductivity. We are investigating the normal and superconducting states of high-temperature superconductors, such as YBa2Cu3O7 or La2-xCuO4, to learn how to describe the normal state, what mechanism leads to superconductivity, and why the transition temperatures are so high. The resonances of 63,65Cu, 17O, 89Y, 135,137Ba permit NMR to probe specific atomic sites (e.g., Cu nuclei in the CuO2 planes).


  • Doctor of Science, University of Leipzig, 2010
  • National Medal of Science (2007)
  • APS Oliver E. Buckley Condensed Matter Prize (1996)
  • DOE Prize for Outstanding Scientific Accomplishments in Solid State Physics (1993)
  • DOE Sustained Outstanding Research in Solid State Physics by the U. S. DOE's Div. of Materials Science (1984, 1992)
  • Tau Beta Pi Daniel C. Drucker Award (1989)
  • Natl. Academy of Science, Comstock Prize Recipient (1993)
  • Triennial Prize of the Intl. Soc. of Magnetic Resonance (1986)
  • American Physical Society Langmuir Prize (1969)
  • Alfred P. Sloan Fellow (1955-61)
  • American Philosophical Society, Member (1971)
  • American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Member (1969)
  • National Academy of Sciences, Member (1967)
  • Sigma Xi member
  • Phi Beta Kappa member
  • International Paramagnetic Resonance Society, Fellow
  • Intl. Society President 1987-90
  • Intl. Society Vice President 1983-86
  • Intl. Society of Magnetic Resonance
  • American Assoc. for the Advancement of Science, Fellow
  • American Physical Society, Fellow
  • Doctor of Laws (L.L.D.), Harvard University, 1996
  • Doctor of Science, University of Waterloo, 1993

Selected Articles in Journals

Related news

  • Accolades
  • Condensed Matter Physics

The American Chemical Society (ACS), through its Division of History of Chemistry, has an award that acknowledges these greatest of strides: the Chemical Breakthrough Awards are presented annually in recognition of “seminal chemistry publications, books, and patents that have been revolutionary in concept, broad in scope, and long-term in impact.” These awards are made to the department where the breakthrough occurred, not to the individual scientists or inventors.

This year, the ACS honored the discovery of “J-coupling” (also known as spin-spin coupling) in liquids, a breakthrough that enabled scientists to use Nuclear Magnetic Resonance (NMR) spectroscopy to identify atoms that are joined by a chemical bond and so to determine the structure of molecules.