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Langmuir, Irving

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U.S. chemist. He developed the gas-filled tungsten lamp and the atomic hydrogen welding process: Nobel prize for chemistry 1932.

Langmuir was the third of four sons and was only 17 when his father died; but the latter worked in insurance and the family was financially secure. The young man attended the School of Mines at Columbia (New York) and then studied at Göttingen with Nernst. His work there, on the dissociation of gases by a hot platinum wire, began an interest in surface chemistry which he never lost. In 1901 he joined the General Electric Company research centre at Schenectady, NY, and worked there for 41 years. An early success for him was the improvement of tungsten filament lamps, by filling them with inert gas (argon) at low pressure to reduce evaporation and by using a coiled-coil filament. Further work on hot filaments led to the discovery of atomic hydrogen and the invention of a welding torch using its recombination to H2 to achieve 6000°C.In 1919–21 he worked on ideas of atomic structure, developing the ideas of...    Continue Reading

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