IRVING LANGMUIR /ˈlæŋmjʊr/ (January 31, 1881 – August 16,
1957) was an American chemist and physicist . His most noted
publication was the famous 1919 article "The Arrangement of Electrons
in Atoms and Molecules" in which, building on
Gilbert N. Lewis
* 1 Biography
* 1.1 Early years * 1.2 Education * 1.3 Research * 1.4 Later years * 1.5 Personal life * 1.6 In fiction
* 2 Honors * 3 Patents * 4 See also * 5 References * 6 External links
During his childhood, Langmuir was influenced by his older brother, Arthur Langmuir. Arthur was a research chemist who encouraged Irving to be curious about nature and how things work. Arthur helped Irving set up his first chemistry lab in the corner of his bedroom, and he was content to answer the myriad questions that Irving would pose. Langmuir's hobbies included mountaineering , skiing , piloting his own plane, and classical music . In addition to his professional interest in the politics of atomic energy, he was concerned about wilderness conservation.
Langmuir attended his early education at various schools and
institutes in America and Paris (1892–1895). Langmuir graduated high
Chestnut Hill Academy (1898), an elite private school
located in the affluent Chestnut Hill area in Philadelphia. He
graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in metallurgical
engineering (Met.E. ) from the
His initial contributions to science came from his study of light bulbs (a continuation of his Ph.D. work). His first major development was the improvement of the diffusion pump , which ultimately led to the invention of the high-vacuum rectifier and amplifier tubes. A year later, he and colleague Lewi Tonks discovered that the lifetime of a tungsten filament could be greatly lengthened by filling the bulb with an inert gas , such as argon , the critical factor (overlooked by other researchers) being the need for extreme cleanliness in all stages of the process. He also discovered that twisting the filament into a tight coil improved its efficiency. These were important developments in the history of the incandescent light bulb . His work in surface chemistry began at this point, when he discovered that molecular hydrogen introduced into a tungsten-filament bulb dissociated into atomic hydrogen and formed a layer one atom thick on the surface of the bulb.
His assistant in vacuum tube research was his cousin William Comings White .
As he continued to study filaments in vacuum and different gas environments, he began to study the emission of charged particles from hot filaments (thermionic emission ). He was one of the first scientists to work with plasmas and was the first to call these ionized gases by that name, because they reminded him of blood plasma . Langmuir and Tonks discovered electron density waves in plasmas that are now known as Langmuir waves .
He introduced the concept of electron temperature and in 1924 invented the diagnostic method for measuring both temperature and density with an electrostatic probe, now called a Langmuir probe and commonly used in plasma physics. The current of a biased probe tip is measured as a function of bias voltage to determine the local plasma temperature and density. He also discovered atomic hydrogen , which he put to use by inventing the atomic hydrogen welding process; the first plasma weld ever made. Plasma welding has since been developed into gas tungsten arc welding .
In 1917, he published a paper on the chemistry of oil films that
later became the basis for the award of the 1932 Nobel Prize in
chemistry. Langmuir theorized that oils consisting of an aliphatic
chain with a hydrophilic end group (perhaps an alcohol or acid ) were
oriented as a film one molecule thick upon the surface of water, with
the hydrophilic group down in the water and the hydrophobic chains
clumped together on the surface. The thickness of the film could be
easily determined from the known volume and area of the oil, which
allowed investigation of the molecular configuration before
spectroscopic techniques were available.
World War I
Langmuir was president of the Institute of Radio Engineers in 1923.
Based on his work at General Electric, John B. Taylor developed a detector ionizing beams of alkali metals, called nowadays the Langmuir-Taylor detector .
Katharine B. Blodgett to study thin films and surface
adsorption. They introduced the concept of a monolayer (a layer of
material one molecule thick) and the two-dimensional physics which
describe such a surface. In 1932 he received the Nobel Prize in
After observing windrows of drifting seaweed in the Sargasso Sea he discovered a wind-driven surface circulation in the sea. It is now called the Langmuir circulation . Langmuir's house in Schenectady
World War II
In 1953 Langmuir coined the term "pathological science ", describing research conducted with accordance to the scientific method , but tainted by unconscious bias or subjective effects. This is in contrast to pseudoscience , which has no pretense of following the scientific method. In his original speech, he presented ESP and flying saucers as examples of pathological science; since then, the label has been applied to polywater and cold fusion .
His house in Schenectady, was designated a National Historic Landmark in 1976.
Langmuir was married to Marion Mersereau (1883-1971) in 1912 with whom he adopted two children: Kenneth and Barbara. After a short illness, he died in Woods Hole, Massachusetts from a heart attack on August 16, 1957. His obituary ran on the front page of The New York Times .
On his religious views, Langmuir was an agnostic.
According to author Kurt Vonnegut , Langmuir was the inspiration for his fictional scientist Dr. Felix Hoenikker in the novel Cat\'s Cradle . The character's invention of ice-nine eventually destroyed the world. Langmuir had worked with Vonnegut's brother, Bernard Vonnegut .
* Fellow of the
American Academy of Arts and Sciences
* Langmuir, U.S. Patent 1,180,159 , "Incandescent Electric Lamp" * Langmuir, U.S. Patent 1,244,217 , "Electron-discharge apparatus and method of operating the same" * Langmuir, U.S. Patent 1,251,388 , "Method of and apparatus for controlling x-ray tubes"
* 18-Electron rule * Irving Langmuir House * Langmuir isotherm * Langmuir Trough * Langmuir equation , an equation that relates the coverage or adsorption of molecules on a solid surface to gas pressure or concentration of a medium above the solid surface at a fixed temperature * Langmuir wave , a rapid oscillation of the electron density in conducting media such as plasmas or metals * Langmuir states , three-dimensional quantum states of Helium when both electrons move in phase on Bohr circular orbits and mutually repel * Langmuir–Blodgett film * Child-Langmuir Law * Langmuir-Taylor detector
* ^ A B C Taylor, H. (1958). "
* Works by or