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Biographical Memoirs: Volume 70
BERND THEODOR MATTHIAS
June 8, 1918-October 27, 1980
BY T. H. GEBALLE AND J. K. HULM
FOR OVER THREE DECADES, from the time of his doctoral research until his death, Bernd Matthias was a leading discoverer of cooperative phenomena in solids. He excelled in discovering superconductivity, ferroelectricity and ferromagnetism in new materials, and left a legacy of many hundreds of new superconducting and ferroelectric compounds with a wide variety of properties. Superconductivity and ferroelectricity are now regarded as common occurrences in nature rather than as exceptional, as they were when he commenced his lifelong quest. Along the way he discovered unexpected classes of ferromagnetic compounds as well. His unique creativity was based on a remarkably deep appreciation of relationships embedded in Mendeleev's periodic table of the elements. He frequently attributed his discoveries purely to intuition. His intuition was based on his eagerness to experiment with many different materials, a phenomenal memory, a quick mind, and an uninhibited belief in the simplicity of nature. His enthusiasm for science was fueled by an unabashed joy in discovering something new, particularly when it did not depend at all on theoretical input.
Anyone who knew Bernd was brought under the spell of