Richter, Burton (1931-) is an American physicist. He won the 1976 Nobel Prize in physics for his discovery of a new kind of elementary nuclear particle, which was given the name psi particle.
Burton shared the prize with American physicist Samuel Chao Chung Ting, who, working independently at the same time and using a different method, discovered the same particle. Ting called it the J particle. Today the particle is known as the J/psi particle. It is about three times heavier than the proton and has a lifetime about 10,000 times longer than would have been expected for a particle of its size. The discovery of the J/psi particle contributed to scientific knowledge of the structure of the universe.
Richter was born on March 22, 1931, in the New York City borough of Brooklyn. He received a B.S. degree in 1952 and a Ph.D. degree in physics in 1956 from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT).
In 1956, after receiving his Ph.D. degree, Richter joined the faculty at Stanford University as a research associate. He was promoted to assistant professor in 1960, associate professor in 1963, and full professor in 1967.
In the mid-1960's, Richter established a group at the Stanford Linear Accelerator Center (SLAC) to design a high-energy machine that would force a beam of electrons to collide with a beam of positrons in a doughnut-shaped vacuum chamber, enabling scientists to study the structure of the two particles. Experiments with this machine, called the Stanford Positron-Electron Asymmetric Ring (SPEAR), began in 1973. Richter and his research team discovered the psi particle in 1974 using SPEAR. He became director of SLAC in 1984, and retired in 1999.