Arthur Holly Compton
Born: 10 September 1892, Wooster, OH, USA
Died: 15 March 1962, Berkeley, CA, USA
Affiliation at the time of the award: University of Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA
Prize motivation: "for his discovery of the effect named after him"
Field: atomic physics
Prize share: 1/2
According to Einstein's theory about the photoelectric effect, light consists of quanta with definite energies corresponding to certain frequencies. The light quantum is called a photon. When Arthur Compton in 1922 sent X-ray photons against a metal surface, the scattered photons had a longer wavelength because part of the incident photon energy was transferred to an electron. The experiment confirmed that electromagnetic radiation could also be described as photon-particles following the laws of mechanics.