Richardson is perhaps best known for his Nobel Prize in physics in 1996 with David Lee and Douglas Osheroff, for their work on superfluidity in helium-3, a breakthrough in the area of low-temperature physics.
He was also a member of the National Academy of Sciences who authored numerous publications.
He joined the faculty at Cornell University in 1968 and was named the Floyd R. Newman Professor of Physics in 1987. He was Cornell’s first vice provost for research and named senior vice provost for research emeritus in 2008. He was the founding director of the Kavli Institute at Cornell for Nanoscale Science and director of the Laboratory of Atomic and Solid State Physics.