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William Duane (physicist)

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Subject: Walther Nernst, William Duane, Alfred Landé, Duane–Hunt law
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William Duane (physicist)

William Duane
Born (1872-02-17)February 17, 1872
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
Died March 7, 1935(1935-03-07) (aged 63)
Nationality United States
Fields Physics
Institutions Harvard University
Alma mater Berlin University
Doctoral advisor Walther Nernst
Known for Duane-Hunt law
Influences Madame Curie
Influenced Alfred Landé
Notable awards Comstock Prize in Physics (1923)

William Duane (February 17, 1872, at Philadelphia – March 7, 1935, in Devon, Pennsylvania) was an American physicist. A coworker of Marie Curie, he developed a method for generating quantities of radon in the laboratory.



  • 1888-1892 University of Pennsylvania
  • 1892-1895 Harvard University
  • 1895 Universities of Göttingen (as a Tyndall Fellow)
  • 1895-1897 Berlin

doctor father: Max Planck

Academic career

  • 1898-1907 professor at the University of Colorado
  • 1908-1913 at the laboratory of Pierre and Marie Curie in Paris
  • 1913-1917 assistant professor of physics at Harvard University
  • 1917-1934 professor of biophysics at Harvard University

research activities

  • radioactivity
  • X-ray spectroscopy, Duane-Hunt law, relating the minimum wavelength of X-rays to the threshold voltage of the cathode rays that excite them.


Starting in 1925, Duane began suffering a continual decline in health brought on by diabetes. This culminated in his death on 7 March 1935 due to his second paralytic stroke.

Honours and awards

The physics department building in the University of Colorado Boulder is named after him. In 1923 Duane was awarded the Comstock Prize in Physics from the National Academy of Sciences.[1]



External links

  • Biography/Bibliography by Nobel Laureate P.W. Bridgman
  • Britannica article on Duane-Hunt law
  • Duane's "Radon Cow" described
  • The Birth of Nuclear Medicine Instrumentation: Blumgart and Yens, 1925 -- Patton 44 (8): 1362 -- The Journal of Nuclear Medicine
  • Outline of history of nuclear medicine
  • The Transfer in Quanta of Radiation Momentum to Matter -- Duane 9 (5): 158 -- Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences
  • by Thomas J. Hickey with free downloads
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