Karl Ferdinand Braun
The Nobel Prize in Physics 1909
Born: 6 June 1850, Fulda, Hesse-Kassel (now Germany)
Died: 20 April 1918, Brooklyn, NY, USA
Affiliation at the time of the award: Strasbourg University, Strasbourg, Germany (now France)
Prize motivation: “in recognition of their contributions to the development of wireless telegraphy”
Prize share: 1/2
Karl Ferdinand Braun was born in Fulda, Germany, studied at the University of Marburg and in 1872 received a doctoral degree at the University of Berlin. In 1895 he became a professor of physics at the University of Strasbourg. His research on electrical components, especially semiconductors, became influential for the revolutionary advances in electronics of the twentieth century. Like many researchers of his era, Braun did not patent his inventions, arguing that just as he benefited from the work of others, others should benefit from his.
In the late 1880s a previously unknown type of radiation was discovered—radio waves. It was found to have the same nature as light, but with a greater wavelength. Various physicists and technicians investigated whether radio waves could be used to transmit signals. Ferdinand Braun contributed to wireless signal transfer technology in several ways. In the late 1890s, he developed the electronics in transmitters to reduce signal weakening and disruptions between different transmitters.
Their work and discoveries range from the Earth’s climate and our sense of touch to efforts to safeguard freedom of expression.
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