Polish-born French physicist, winner of the Nobel Prize for Physics
in 1992 for his invention of subatomic particle detectors, in particular
the multiwire proportional chamber.
Charpak built the first multiwire proportional chamber in 1968. Unlike
earlier detectors, such as the bubble chamber, which can record the
tracks left by particles at the rate of only one or two per second,
the multiwire chamber records up to one million tracks per second and
sends the data directly to a computer for analysis. The speed and precision
of the multiwire chamber and its descendants, the drift chamber and
the time projection chamber, revolutionized high-energy physics. Samuel
Ting's discovery of the J/psi particle and Carlo Rubbia's discovery
of the W and Z particles, which won Nobel Prizes in 1976 and 1984, respectively,
involved the use of multiwire chambers; and by the 1990s such detectors
were at the heart of almost every experiment in particle physics. Charpak's
chamber also has applications in medicine, biology, and industry.
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