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

Split the Atom for the First Time

Ernest Rutherford used alpha particles from radioactive elements to study nuclear reactions and managed to convert nitrogen to oxygen. However, only very few reactions could be achieved with alpha particles from radioactive elements. Ernest Walton and John Cockcroft developed a device, an accelerator, to make more penetrating radiation. Using an electric field, protons were accelerated to high velocities. In 1932 they bombarded lithium with protons and the lithium nucleus broke-up and two alpha particles were produced.

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