James Charles Phillips

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James Charles Phillips (born March 9, 1933) is an American physicist and a member of the National Academy of Science (1978). Phillips invented the exact theory of the ionicity of chemical bonding in semiconductors, as well as new theories of compacted networks (including glasses, high temperature superconductors, and proteins).


Phillips was born in New Orleans and grew up in several Western states (Arizona, Colorado and New Mexico). After graduating from Albuquerque HS in 1950, he went to the University of Chicago, where he received M.S. in both mathematics and physics. He was the grader in Enrico Fermi’s last course (1955). He studied with Morrel H. Cohen, with a Ph.D. thesis on algebraic topology (1956). He joined the Theoretical Physics group at Bell Laboratories, newly formed and under the leadership of Conyers Herring (1956-1958). Following a suggestion by Herring, Phillips invented a simplified (PseudoPotential, PP) theory of the electronic structure of semiconductors, and produced the first electronic structures of Silicon and Germanium semiconductors in good agreement with known properties (1958).

Phillips spent postdoctoral years at Univ. California (Berkeley) with Charles Kittel, and at the Cavendish Lab., Cambridge Univ., where he introduced PP ideas that were used there for decades by Volker Heine and others. He returned to the University of Chicago as a faculty member (1960-1968). There he and Marvin L. Cohen extended PP theory to calculate the fundamental optical and photoemission spectra of many semiconductors, with high precision.[1][2][3] Highly accurate PP placed the electronic structure of semiconductors almost on a par with that of atoms (Niels Bohr, the planetary model, 1913). PP culminated in his “exact” dielectric ionicity theory (1968), which still is the only theory to improve on the previously best ionicity theory of Linus Pauling. During his time at Chicago, Phillips also co-authored (with Morrel Cohen and Leo Falicov) the microscopic theory of superconductive tunneling (1962), replacing a (1961) theory by John Bardeen. The “CFP” theory was the basis of Brian Josephson’s theory of his Effect (1962).

Phillips returned to full-time research at Bell Laboratories (1968-2001), where he completed his dielectric studies of semiconductor properties. In 1979 he invented a practical theory of compacted networks, known as rigidity theory, specifically applied first to network glasses, based on topological principles and Lagrangian bonding constraints [1100+ citations]. Over time this theory organized large quantities of glass data, and culminated in the discovery (1999) by Punit Boolchand of a new phase of matter – the Intermediate Phase of glasses, free of internal stress, and with a nearly reversible glass transition. This theory has been adopted at Corning,[4] where it has contributed to the invention of new specialty glasses, including Gorilla glass (used in over three billion portable devices in 2014) and others. In 2001 Phillips moved to Rutgers University, where he completed his 1987 theory of high temperature superconductors as self-organized percolative dopant networks, by displaying their high Tc systematics in a unique Pauling valence compositional plot with a symmetric cusp-like feature, entirely unlike that known for the critical temperatures Tc of any other phase transition.[5]

Next he found a way[6] to connect Per Bak’s ideas of Self-Organized Criticality to proteins, which are networks compacted into globules by hydropathic forces, by using a new hydrophobicity scale (similar in precision to his dielectric scale of ionicity) invented in Brazil using bioinformatic methods on more than 5000 structures in the Protein Data Base.[7] He has proved the superiority of this scale against other scales for numerous (especially heptad) transmembrane proteins. Using profile smoothing methods he has found otherwise inaccessible correlations between protein properties and thousands of amino acid sequences, based on homologous globular features of water film packages. In 2011 he used these correlations to explain quantitatively how vaccination pressures have reduced the virulence of common H1N1 influenza. In 2012 he engineered new hypermutated strains of Newcastle Disease Virus, closely related to influenza virus. Data obtained over the last 50 years on wild type and singly mutated NDV strains suggest that these nearly ideally engineered hyperstrains HNDV are promising candidates for producing nearly total remission by arterial injection of common and even metastasized internal cancers (colo-rectal, liver, pancreatic, prostate, breast, …), as well as suppression of recurrences.

Phillips has since applied his bioinformatic scaling methods to several medically important families.[8] These methods identify the molecular specificity mechanisms behind p53 cancer autoantibody binding mechanisms. The epitopic materials are cheap and may provide a "royal road" to a simple blood test for early cancer detection without measurement of DNA mutations.


Phillips has published four books and more than 500 papers. He has patterned his work after that of Enrico Fermi and Linus Pauling; it emphasizes general new ideas in the concrete context of problem solving. One of his highlights not mentioned above is his (1994) bifurcated solution to the fractions found in stretched exponential relaxation, the oldest (~ 140 years) unsolved problem in science. This controversial topological model was confirmed in a decisive experiment by Corning, with their best glasses in specially tailored geometries (2011). His bifurcation theory also explains (2010,2012) the distributions of 600 million citations from 25 million papers (all of 20th century science), and why they changed abruptly in 1960.[9]


  1. ^ Phillips, J. C. Bonds and Bands in Semiconductors (New York:Academic:1973)
  2. ^ Phillips, J. C. and Lucovsky G. Bonds and Bands in Semiconductors (New York:Momentum:2009)
  3. ^ Cohen, M. L. and Chelikowsky, J. R. Electronic Structure and Optical Properties of Semiconductors (Berlin:Springer:1988)
  4. ^ Mauro, J. C. Amer. Ceram. Soc. Bull. 90, 32 (2011)
  5. ^ Phillips, J. C. Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. 107,1307 (2010)
  6. ^ Phillips, J. C. Phys. Rev. E 80, 051916 (2009)
  7. ^ Zebende, G. and Moret, M. Phys. Rev. E 75, 011920 (2007)
  8. ^ Phillips, J. C.Phys. A 427,277 (2015)
  9. ^ Naumis, G. G. and Phillips, J. C. J. Non-Cryst. Sol. 358, 893 (2012)