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Nobel Prizes and Laureates

Nobel Prizes and Laureates

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

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Ernest T.S. Walton - Facts

Ernest Thomas Sinton Walton

Ernest Thomas Sinton Walton

Born: 6 October 1903, Dungarvan, Ireland

Died: 25 June 1995, Belfast, Northern Ireland

Affiliation at the time of the award: Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland

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. Ernest Walton and John Cockcroft 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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