Irving Langmuir

The American chemist Irving Langmuir, b. Jan. 31, 1881, d. Aug. 16, 1957, excelled in both theoretical contributions and their practical applications in many fields of science. He conducted his monumental research (1909-50) at the General Electric Company in Schenectady, N.Y. Langmuir's studies of chemical reactions at high temperature and low pressure led to the gas-filled tungsten lamp, which prolongs the life of the filament. His research dealing with the thermal effect on gases shed light on the properties of atomic hydrogen and resulted in the manufacture of the atomic hydrogen torch used for welding. In atomic structure he contributed to the modern theory of electronic bonding. His work on thermionic emission resulted in the construction of many electron tubes. For his pioneer work in the fields of catalysis and adsorption Langmuir was awarded the 1932 Nobel Prize for chemistry.


Bibliography: Hylander, John C., Irving Langmuir: American Scientist (1935); Jaffe, Bernard, Irving Langmuir: Crucibles--The Story of Chemistry (1948); Rosenfeld, Albert, The Quintessence of Irving Langmuir (1966); Wasser, Tyler, ed., Nobel Prize Winners (1987).

Last modified on: Monday, October 20, 1997.