MURRAY HILL, N.J. - Bell Labs announced today the findings of an independent committee it formed to investigate the validity of certain research reported by teams of Bell Labs and other scientists. In its report, the committee concludes that one member of these teams, Jan Hendrik Schön, had engaged in scientific misconduct by falsifying and fabricating experimental data between 1998 and 2001. Schon's employment with Lucent Technologies has been terminated. The committee cleared all the other researchers who had contributed to the experiments, and who were co-authors on several published papers, of any scientific misconduct.
Bell Labs proactively formed the committee in May after questions arose regarding the validity of data in several published papers authored by a total of 20 researchers from Bell Labs and other institutions. It named Malcolm Beasley, the Theodore and Sydney Rosenberg Professor of Applied Physics and former Dean of the School of Humanities and Sciences at Stanford University, as chair and four other eminent scientists and engineers as members, and gave the group full freedom and authority to conduct an objective review of the challenged research, to determine the scope of the inquiry, to interview any Lucent employees, and to review lab records, reports of previous internal investigations and other documents.
The experiments in question were in the areas of superconductivity, molecular crystals and molecular electronics, and were not related to any of Lucent's current commercial products.
"The evidence that manipulation and misrepresentation of data occurred is compelling," the committee wrote, linking all misconduct to just Schön, who committed falsification or fabrication of data on at least 16 occasions, some interrelated. According to the committee's report, he "did this intentionally or recklessly and without the knowledge of any of his co-authors."
Bill O'Shea, president of Bell Labs, said, "We are deeply disappointed that a case of scientific misconduct has occurred at Bell Labs - the first in our 77-year history. Since Bell Labs' founding in 1925, tens of thousands of Bell Labs scientists and engineers have faithfully abided by the scientific honor code. That's an enviable track record, but we take this one exception very seriously.
Subsequent to the release of this report, eight papers by Hendrik Schön printed in Science were withdrawn at the request of his co-authors. To read the AP story on these retractions, click HERE.
On March 5, 2003, Nature magazine retracted 7 articles by Schön, making the following statement: "We (Lucent Technologies) are issuing a retraction of the paper[s]. We note nevertheless that [these papers] may...contain some legitimate ideas and contributions."
Teams of physicists at the Delft University of Technology in the Netherlands and IBM's Thomas J. Watson Research Center in Yorktown Heights, New York, have since revisited devices based on Schön's designs. Both groups followed the methods in his papers. But, neither obtained the results recorded by Schön.
The committee's full report, including an executive summary, is available at this link.