Sir George Paget Thomson


Sir George Paget Thomson
(1892-1975)

English physicist whose work on interference phenomena in the scattering of electrons by crystals helped to confirm the wavelike nature of particles. He shared a Nobel prize 1937.
In the USA, C J Davisson made the same discovery independently, earlier the same year, using a different method.
He was born and educated at Cambridge, the son of physicist J J Thomson. His first professorship was 1922-30 at Aberdeen, moving to Imperial College, London, 1930-52. During World War II, Thomson headed many government committees, including one concerned with atomic weapons.
During the mid-1920s, Thomson carried out a series of experiments hoping to verify French physicist Louis de Broglie's hypothesis that electrons possess duality, acting both as particles and as waves. The experiment involved bombarding very thin metal (aluminium, gold, and platinum) and celluloid foils with a narrow beam of electrons. The beam was scattered into a series of rings. Applying mathematical formulas to measurements of the rings, together with a knowledge of the crystal lattice, Thomson showed in 1927 that all the readings were in complete agreement with de Broglie's theory.

 


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