Nobel Prize for Physics


    THE formulation of de Broglie's wave-particle theory in 1924 and its experimental verification in 1927 by Dr. C. J. Davisson at New York and Prof. G. P. Thomson at Aberdeen mark an outstanding epoch in the history of physics. With the award of the Nobel Prize for Physics for 1937 to Dr. Davisson and Prof. Thomson just announced, all three are now in the select ranks of Nobel prize winners. The scattering of an electron beam was first studied by Campbell Swinton so far back as 1899, and had it not been for the fact that he used a polycrystalline instead of a single crystal reflecting surface, he might well have discovered the wave-like interaction of electrons with matter. The results of the many further observations on the scattering of electrons were all found to be in accordance with classical or quantum mechanics until, in 1921, Davisson and Kunsman recorded directions of preferential scattering of an electron beam from a polycrystalline surface which, however, they explained in terms of pure particle mechanics. Although L. de Broglie had formulated his theory associating wave systems with moving particles in 1924, it appears to have been rather the stimulus of an accidental observation which led C. J. Davisson and L. H. Germer to study the scattering of slow electrons from the surface of a single nickel crystal, and in March 1927 they gave a preliminary summary of their results. This was followed in December of the same year by a more complete account, which established for the first time the wave properties of moving electrons, in agreement with de Broglie's theory.

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    Nobel Prize for Physics. Nature 140, 882 (1937).

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