Bloch, Felix

Bloch, Felix, 1905–83, American physicist, b. Zürich, Switzerland, Ph.D. Univ. of Leipzig, Germany, 1928. He was a professor at Stanford from 1934 until his retirement in 1971. Bloch and Edward Purcell shared the 1952 Nobel Prize in Physics for their development in 1946 of a new method for determining the magnetic properties of atomic nuclei. Known as nuclear magnetic resonance absorption, the nondestructive technique enabled researchers to place any material in an electromagnetic field, expose it to radio waves, and characterize its atomic makeup. Working independently, the two researchers made the breakthrough at about the same time, providing the basis for magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), an important medical diagnostic tool.

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