Elected in 1977
“For pioneering in molecular engineering and in setting a pattern for interdisciplinary materials research.”
BY RUSTUM ROY
PROFESSOR ARTHUR R. VON HIPPEL, professor of electrophysics, founder and director of the Laboratory for Insulation Research, and Institute Professor at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), died on December 31, 2003, in Weston, Massachusetts. He was a pioneer and champion of interdisciplinary studies at MIT, and his laboratory was an existence theorem for the value of interdisciplinary study and research in academia.
Dr. von Hippel was born in Rostock, Germany, on November 19, 1898. He married Dagmar Franck, daughter of the German physicist James Franck, in 1930; the von Hippels became naturalized American citizens on April 21, 1942. They had five children, Peter Hans, Arndt Robert, Frank Niels, Eric Arthur, and Marianne Margaret.
Professor von Hippel studied at the University of Göttingen, where he received the degree of doctor of philosophy in 1924. He spent three years doing research at the University of Jena, under Professor Max Wien, and then a year as a Rockefeller Fellow in physics at the University of California. He then returned to Jena for a year as Privat-Dozent. From 1929 to 1933, he was Privat-Dozent in Professor James Franck’s Institute at the University of Göttingen. In 1935, he spent a year as professor at the University of Istanbul. From there, he went to the Niels Bohr Institute in Copenhagen, where he worked with Professor Bohr on dielectric breakdown.