Nobel Prizes and Laureates

Nobel Prizes and Laureates

The Nobel Prize in Physics 1951
John Cockcroft, Ernest T.S. Walton

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John Cockcroft - Facts

Sir John Douglas Cockcroft

Sir John Douglas Cockcroft

Born: 27 May 1897, Todmorden, United Kingdom

Died: 18 September 1967, Cambridge, United Kingdom

Affiliation at the time of the award: Atomic Energy Research Establishment, Harwell, Berkshire, United Kingdom

Prize motivation: "for their pioneer work on the transmutation of atomic nuclei by artificially accelerated atomic particles"

Field: accelerator physics, nuclear physics

Prize share: 1/2

Gave New Insight into the Properties of Atomic Nuclei

Ernest Rutherford used alpha particles from radioactive elements to study nuclear reactions and used his findings to convert nitrogen into oxygen. However, only a very few nuclear reactions could be achieved using alpha particles. John Cockcroft and Ernest Walton developed a device, an accelerator, to generate more penetrating radiation. Using a strong electric field, protons were accelerated to high velocities. In 1932, they bombarded lithium with protons, causing their nuclei to split and producing two alpha particles.

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