Dr. Robert A. "Bob" Hein, 78, who gained international recognition for his work in low-temperature physics and superconductivity, died of cancer Aug. 3 at his home in Catonsville, Md.
He was born in Reading, Pa., and enlisted in the Army in 1943. While serving in Europe, he fought with the 75th Field Artillery and at the Battle of the Bulge.
After the war, he graduated from Catholic University with bachelor's, master's and Ph.D degrees (1967) in physics.
From 1957 to 1970, Dr. Hein worked for the Naval Research Laboratory in Washington, where he established a research team to explore the phenomenon of superconductivity that occurs in certain metals at very low temperatures. He published 65 technical papers in professional journals and nine NRL scientific reports. His work earned him the E. O. Hulbert award as the outstanding scientist at NRL in 1967.
In 1971, he served as the scientific liaison officer to the Office of Naval Research in London, where he evaluated physics research efforts across Europe.
He returned to NRL in 1972 as head of the Cryogenics and Superconductivity Branch in the Materials Sciences Division. He also served as a visiting scientist at an institute in Schwabisch-Gmund, Germany, at the University of Giessen in Giessen, Germany, and at the University of California at San Diego.
In 1978, he left NRL to become director of the Low Temperature Physics Program at the National Science Foundation. After his retirement from the federal government in 1981, Dr. Hein became a research professor at Catholic University and also taught freshman physics classes.
In 1988, after 40 years in the Washington area, Dr. Hein relocated to Seattle, where he was a visiting scholar at the University of Washington. He moved to Catonsville in 2003.
Dr. Hein was active in German language clubs and enjoyed bowling, gardening and his grandchildren.
Survivors include his wife of 57 years, Mary M. Hein of Catonsville; two children, Elizabeth Modery of Seattle and Eric Hein of Bowie; and four grandchildren.