The European Physical Journal H

, Volume 36, Issue 1, pp 1-61

First online:

Bruno Touschek: particle physicist and father of the e+e collider

  • Luisa BonolisAffiliated withHistory of Physics Group, AIF Email author 
  • , Giulia PancheriAffiliated withINFN Frascati National LaboratoriesCenter for Theoretical Physics, Laboratory for Nuclear Science, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Email author 

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


This article gives a brief outline of the life and works of the Austrian physicist Bruno Touschek, who conceived and, 50 years ago, brought to completion the construction of AdA, the first electron-positron storage ring. The events which led to the approval of the AdA project and the Franco-Italian collaboration which confirmed the feasibility of electron-positron storage rings will be recalled. We shall illustrate Bruno Touschek’s formation both as a theoretical physicist and as an expert in particle accelerators during the period between the time he had to leave the Vienna Staatgymnasium in 1938, because of his Jewish origin from the maternal side, until he arrived in Italy in the early 1950s and, in 1960, proposed to build AdA, in Frascati. The events which led to Touschek’s collaboration with Rolf Widerøe in the construction of the first European betatron will be described. The article will make use of a number of unpublished as well as previously unknown documents, which include an early correspondence with Arnold Sommerfeld and Bruno Touschek’s letters to his family in Vienna from Italy, Germany and Great Britain. The impact of Touschek’s work on students and collaborators from University of Rome will be illustrated through his work on QED infrared radiative corrections to high energy e + e experiments and the book Meccanica Statistica.