Skip to content Skip to navigation

Richter, Burton

Burton Richter

Photo: Leo Holub
Oral History Project: 
Bahls, Matthew R.
Interview Year: 
Oral History Type: 

Nobel laureate Burton Richter, a pioneering figure in the development of high-energy electron storage rings and colliding-beam facilities and a former director of SLAC, discusses his childhood and early education, studying physics with Francis Bitter and Francis  Friedman at MIT, and his recruitment by Wolfgang Panofsky to the High Energy Physics Laboratory at Stanford as a post-doc in 1956.  He  describes his role in the design and construction of the first electron-electron colliding beam machine at Stanford and his early years as a postdoc and later an assistant professor in the Physics Department at Stanford. Richter reflects on the technical and bureaucratic challenges that ultimately led to the construction of the electron-positron collider and the resulting watershed research in November 1974 that led to his Nobel Prize in Physics. Other topics covered include the origins of  the Stanford Synchrotron Radiation Laboratory (SSRL), his yearlong sabbatical at CERN and the research that led up to the construction of the Linear Collider Project, serving as lab director at SLAC, his years as Director of the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC), and other research projects that were started during his time at Stanford,