Charles Pence Slichter
Born(1924-01-21)21 January 1924
Died19 February 2018(2018-02-19) (aged 94)
Alma materHarvard University (AB magna cum laude 1946, MA 1947, PhD 1949, honorary LlD 1996)
Known forJ-coupling, Overhauser effect, Hebel–Slichter effect
AwardsNational Medal of Science (2007)
Oliver E. Buckley Condensed Matter Prize (1996)
Comstock Prize in Physics (1993)
Irving Langmuir Award (1969)
Scientific career
InstitutionsUniversity of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Doctoral advisorEdward Purcell[1]

Charles Pence Slichter (January 21, 1924 – February 19, 2018[2][1]) was an American physicist, best known for his work on nuclear magnetic resonance and superconductivity.

He was awarded the 2007 National Medal of Science "for establishing nuclear magnetic resonance as a powerful tool to reveal the fundamental molecular properties of liquids and solids. His inspired teaching has led generations of physicists and chemists to develop a host of modern technologies in condensed matter physics, chemistry, biology and medicine."[3]

Birth and education

Slichter was born in 1924 in Ithaca, New York. He attended Harvard University, where in 1949 received his Ph.D. under the supervision of Edward Purcell.[1]


Slichter discusses his life and career.

Slichter was a professor of physics and chemistry at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign from 1949 until his retirement in 2006.

He spent one sabbatical semester (Spring 1961) as Morris Loeb Lecturer at Harvard University.[4] The lectures he gave there formed the nucleus of his book "Principles of Magnetic Resonance".

Slichter served as a member of the National Science Board from 1976–1984; as a member and vice-chair[5] of the President's Science Advisory Committee from 1965–1969; as a member of the President's Committee on the National Medal of Science, 1969–1974; and as a member of the President's Committee on Science and Technology Policy, 1976.[6]

Slichter was a member (Fellow) of the Harvard Corporation, Harvard's senior governing body, from 1970–1995.[7] He chaired the search committee that selected Neil Rudenstine as the president of Harvard in 1991.[8] He was an elected member of the United States National Academy of Sciences,[9] the American Academy of Arts and Sciences,[10] and the American Philosophical Society.[11]


Slichter's research focused primarily on NMR and superconductivity. His most important work includes:[12]

Other notable scientific contributions include the introduction of phase sensitive detection to pulsed NMR and its use to detect weak signals, studies of charge density waves and of the Kondo effect, the theory of chemical shifts, NMR studies of high-temperature superconductivity, theory of the effects of chemical exchange on NMR spectra, and studies of NMR of metal surfaces (catalysis).[13]

Slichter was the recipient of numerous awards, in addition to the 2007 National Medal of Science. In 1993 Slichter was awarded the Comstock Prize in Physics from the National Academy of Sciences.[14] In 1969 he received the Langmuir Prize, and 1996 the Buckley Prize, both from the American Physical Society.[15][13] The American Chemical Society honored his discovery of J-coupling with a Citation for Chemical Breakthrough Award in 2016.[16][17] Slichter was an Alfred P. Sloan Fellow from 1955–1961.

Slichter received honorary Doctor of Science degrees from the University of Waterloo (1993) and Leipzig University (2010), and an honorary Doctor of Laws (LL.D.) degree from Harvard University in 1996.[6]


Slichter was the son of economist Sumner Slichter, the grandson of mathematician Charles S. Slichter, the nephew of geophysicist Louis B. Slichter, the father of musician Jacob Slichter,[18] and brother of Bell Labs executive William P. Slichter.[19]



  1. ^ a b c "Charles P. Slichter, 1924-2018". Archived from the original on 2021-10-09. Retrieved 2018-01-03.
  2. ^ a b Tycko, Robert; Giannetta, Russ (2018). "Charles Pence Slichter". Physics Today. 71 (7): 61. Bibcode:2018PhT....71g..61T. doi:10.1063/PT.3.3978. S2CID 165934416.
  3. ^ "President Bush Presents 2007 National Medals of Science and Technology and Innovation".
  4. ^ "The Morris Loeb and David M. Lee Lectures in Physics: 1953-1990 | Harvard University Department of Physics". Archived from the original on 2018-04-16. Retrieved 2018-02-23.
  5. ^ "How the President Gets His Science Advice". doi:10.1063/1.3035746. ((cite journal)): Cite journal requires |journal= (help)
  6. ^ a b "Charles P. Slichter - Illinois Engineering". Retrieved 2018-02-22.
  7. ^ "Charles Slichter, eminent physicist and longtime Corporation member, dies at 94". Harvard Gazette. 2018-02-28. Retrieved 2018-03-01.
  8. ^ "Slichter & Stone | News | The Harvard Crimson". Retrieved 2018-02-27.
  9. ^ "Charles P. Slichter". Retrieved 2022-08-30.
  10. ^ "Charles Pence Slichter". American Academy of Arts & Sciences. Retrieved 2022-08-30.
  11. ^ "APS Member History". Retrieved 2022-08-30.
  12. ^ "Charles P. Slichter | PHYSICS ILLINOIS". Archived from the original on 2018-03-02. Retrieved 2018-03-01.
  13. ^ a b "Prize Recipient".
  14. ^ "Comstock Prize in Physics". National Academy of Sciences. Archived from the original on 29 December 2010. Retrieved 13 February 2011.
  15. ^ "Prize Recipient".
  16. ^ "American Chemical Society's 2017 Chemical Breakthrough Award recognizes 1951 discovery by Gutowsky, McCall, and Slichter".
  17. ^ "Citations for Chemical Breakthroughs - 2016 Awardees".
  18. ^ "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2008-08-29. Retrieved 2008-10-29.((cite web)): CS1 maint: archived copy as title (link)
  19. ^ Cook, Joan (30 October 1990). "William P. Slichter, 68, Scientist; Helped Develop Semiconductors". The New York Times.
  20. ^ Van Vleck, J. H. (1965). "Review of Principles of Magnetic Resonance by Charles P. Slichter". Physics Today. 18 (1): 114–116. doi:10.1063/1.3047095. ISSN 0031-9228.