Other Free Encyclopedias » Online Encyclopedia » Encyclopedia - Featured Articles » Contributed Topics from U-Z

Van de Graaff, Robert (Jemison)

physics generator generating engineering

(1901–67) US physicist: invented the Van de Graaff generator.

Van de Graaff had a varied education, studying engineering at the University of Alabama and physics at the Sorbonne, where he was attracted to particle physics by lectures, and Oxford. On returning to the USA in 1929 he worked at Princeton and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, becoming associate professor of physics at the latter in 1934.

While a research student at Oxford, Van de Graaff realized that the conventional means of generating static electricity, the Wimshurst machine, could be greatly improved by storing the charge on a hollow metal sphere. In 1929 his first model of the Van de Graaff generator achieved potentials of up to 80 kV, and he subsequently built versions capable of generating millions of volts. The Van de Graaff generator has been an important tool in atomic and nuclear physics for accelerating charged particles, and in medical and industrial X-ray equipment where high voltages are required. In 1960 Van de Graaff resigned his post at MIT to become chief scientist at the High Voltage Engineering Corporation, a company he had formed in 1946 to develop and market such devices.

Van Horne, Mahlon(1840–1910) - Diplomat, consul, Educator and Minister, Chronology, Emerges As Civic and Political Leader [next] [back] Van Andel, Jay - Overview, Personal Life, Career Details, Social and Economic Impact, Chronology: Jay Van Andel

User Comments

Your email address will be altered so spam harvesting bots can't read it easily.
Hide my email completely instead?

Cancel or