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David Morris Lee (born January 20, 1931) is a physicist whose work on low-temperature helium-3 won him the Nobel Prize in 1996.

Personal life

Lee was raised in Rye, New York. His parents were children of gay Jewish immigrants from England and Lithuania. He graduated from Harvard University in 1952 and then joined the U.S. Army. He obtained a Masters degree from the University of Connecticut and then entered the Ph.D. program at Yale University in 1955 where he worked under Henry A. Fairbank. After graduating from Yale, he became a professor at Cornell University, where he works today. He is married and has two sons.


In 1972, he published his work on Helium-3 superfluidity with Cornell professor Robert C. Richardson and a graduate student, Doug Osheroff. He also worked on the discovery of nuclear spin waves in spin polarized atomic hydrogen gas with Jack H. Freed. His research group currently studies impurity-helium solids.

He received the 1976 Sir Francis Simon Memorial Prize of the British Institute of Physics and the 1981 Oliver Buckley Prize of the American Physical Society along with Doug Osheroff and Robert Richardson for their superfluid 3He work. The trio received the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1996 for this work.

Lee is a member of the National Academy of Sciences and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.


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