Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen
Born: 27 March 1845, Lennep (now Remscheid), Prussia (now Germany)
Died: 10 February 1923, Munich, Germany
Affiliation at the time of the award: Munich University, Munich, Germany
Prize motivation: "in recognition of the extraordinary services he has rendered by the discovery of the remarkable rays subsequently named after him"
Field: atomic physics, x-rays
Prize share: 1/1
In 1895 Wilhelm Röntgen made experiments with cathode rays - radiation emitted in a low pressure glass tube when a voltage is applied between two metal plates. He discovered weak light appearing on a screen a bit away although the glass-tube was shielded. Subsequent experiments showed that the radiation was previously unknown and penetrating.
X-rays became rapidly an important instrument, in use in scientific experiments and in examinations of humans.