27 Mar, 2021

Wilhelm Roentgen – physicist, Nobel laureate

Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen (German Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen), the great German physicist, was born on March 27, 1845 near Dusseldorf, in the family of a wealthy merchant and owner of a cloth factory. When the boy was three years old, the family moved to Holland. Here he first attended a private school, then a technical school.

In 1865 Roentgen went to Zurich to continue his education. After completing the scientific and engineering course, he turned to experimental physics. Already in 1869 he received a Ph.D. degree for his article on the theory of gases.

His scientific research relates to electromagnetism, crystal physics, optics, molecular physics. In 1895, Roentgen discovered radiation with a wavelength shorter than the wavelength of ultraviolet rays (X-rays), later called X-rays, and investigated their properties: the ability to be reflected, absorbed, ionized air, etc. He proposed the correct design of the tube for obtaining X-rays – an inclined platinum anti-cathode and a concave cathode; was the first to take photographs using X-rays.

Roentgen discovered in 1885 the magnetic field of a dielectric moving in an electric field (the so-called roentgen current). A significant number of the scientist’s works are devoted to the study of the properties of liquids, gases, crystals, electromagnetic phenomena. He discovered the interconnection of electrical and optical phenomena in crystals.

In 1900 Roentgen received an invitation to the University of Munich. He remained a professor at this university until 1920. In 1903–1906 his assistant here was the Russian physicist A.F. Ioffe.

For the discovery of the rays that bear his name, Roentgen in 1901 was the first among physicists to be awarded the Nobel Prize. Roentgen has also received other prestigious awards.

Wilhelm Konrad Roentgen died in Munich on February 10, 1923.