Robert A. Hein, 78, expert on superconductors

August 09, 2004

Robert A. Hein, a retired physicist who was an internationally known expert in the field of superconductors, died of cancer Tuesday at Charlestown retirement community. He was 78.

Dr. Hein was born and raised in Reading, Pa., and enlisted in the Army in 1943. He served with the 75th Field Artillery and saw action at the Battle of the Bulge during the winter of 1944-1945.

After leaving the Army with the rank of corporal, he earned a bachelor's degree in physics from Catholic University of America in 1951. He earned a master's degree and a doctorate in physics, also from Catholic University.

From 1957 to 1970, Dr. Hein worked at the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, where he established and directed a research team that explored the phenomenon of superconductivity, which occurs in metals at very low temperatures.

Dr. Hein wrote 65 technical papers and nine reports on the subject.

From 1971 to 1972, he was scientific liaison officer for the Office of Naval Research in London, where he evaluated physics research efforts in Europe.

After returning to the Naval Research Laboratory, he was head of its cryogenics and superconductivity branch in the materials science division. From 1978 until he retired in 1981, he was director of the low-temperature physics program at the National Science Foundation in Washington.

The former longtime Hyattsville resident was a research professor at Catholic University in the 1980s and a visiting scholar at the University of Washington in Seattle from 1988 to last year, when he moved to the Catonsville retirement community.

Dr. Hein enjoyed tenpin bowling and gardening, and was active in several German language clubs.

A Mass of Christian burial will be offered at 2 p.m. Saturday at St. Pius X Roman Catholic Church, 3300 Moreland Place in Bowie.

Dr. Hein is survived by his wife of 57 years, the former Mary M. Blankenbiller; a son, Eric Hein of Bowie; a daughter, Elizabeth Modery of Seattle; and four grandchildren.

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