George Paget Thomson
Born: 3 May 1892, Cambridge, United Kingdom
Died: 10 September 1975, Cambridge, United Kingdom
Affiliation at the time of the award: London University, London, United Kingdom
Prize motivation: "for their experimental discovery of the diffraction of electrons by crystals"
Field: crystallography, electromagnetism
Prize share: 1/2
In the beginning of the 19th century, quantum physics evolved from the idea that energy is conveyed in only certain fixed amounts. An early finding indicated that light can be regarded as both waves and particles. Later it was proposed that matter, such as electrons, also can be described as both waves and particles. In 1927 G.P. Thomson and Clinton Davisson demonstrated, independently of one another, that electrons could be described as waves. When an electron beam passed through a nickel crystal, diffraction patterns appeared.