Conyers Herring

Conyers Herring

Conyers Herring (1914-) is an American physicist. He was the Wolf Prize in Physics in 1984/5. He is a Professor of Applied Physics at Stanford University.

Academic career

Conyers Herring completed his Ph.D in Physics from Princeton University in 1937. In 1946, he joined the technical staff of Bell Laboratories in Murray Hill, New Jersey, where he remained until 1978. Then, he joined the faculty at Stanford University.


Conyers Herring played a major role in the development of solid state physics.

He laid the foundations of band structure calculations of metals and semiconductors, culminating in the discovery of the Orthogonalized Plane Wave Method (O.P.W.). He was years ahead of his time in this contribution. A great deal of modern solid state physics as produced today stems from this original and early paper.

His influence on the development of solid state physics extends to a deep understanding of many facets such as surface physics, of thermionic emission, of transport phenomena in semiconductors and of collective excitations in solids such as spin waves.

He created the theoretical physics division at Bell Telephone Laboratory. Because of this, the total research effort at this institution and brought about much of the most original research in condensed matter physics during the last 30 years.

He has also been most influential in promoting international cooperation among scientists and through his character and his personal example, he has exemplified a somewhat unattainable ideal of how a research scholar in any field should operate.

He has contributed to religion and science discussions. He has stated about God that "Things such as truth, goodness, even happiness, are achievable by virtue of a force that is always present, in the here and now and available to me personally".

Awards and honors

In 1984/85 Conyers Herring was awarded the Wolf Prize in Physics along with Philippe Nozieres for "for their major contributions to the fundamental theory of solids, especially of the behaviour of electronsin metals".In 1980, the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) presented the James Murray Luck Award for Excellence in Scientific Reviewing to him. He is also a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

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