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Irving Langmuir

(1881—1957) American chemist and physicist


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(1881–1957)

US chemist, who made an early contribution to the design of light bulbs and was awarded the 1932 Nobel Prize for Chemistry for his work on surface phenomena.

Langmuir was born in New York and educated at the Columbia School of Mines and in Germany at Göttingen University, where he gained his PhD in 1906. Langmuir taught briefly on his return home, before joining the General Electric Company at their research laboratory in Schenectady, New York, in 1909. He remained with them until his retirement in 1950.

In 1913 Langmuir found that the life of the tungsten vacuum bulbs then in use could be extended considerably if they were filled with a mixture of nitrogen and argon. So successful and profitable did his innovation prove to be that General Electric granted Langmuir the freedom to pursue his own research. This enabled him to make numerous contributions to chemical theory and practice. His most significant work was concerned with atomic structure and the surface properties of liquids and solids.

Subjects: Meteorology and Climatology.


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