Frans Michel Penning

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Frans Michel Penning
Born 12 September 1894
Gorinchem, Netherlands
Died 6 December 1953 (1953-12-07) (aged 59)
Utrecht, Netherlands
Known for Penning ionization, Penning trap
Scientific career
Fields Physics, gas phase ion chemistry

Frans Michel Penning (12 September 1894 – 6 December 1953) was a Dutch experimental physicist.[1] He received his PhD from the University of Leiden in 1923,[2] and studied low pressure gas discharges at the Philips Laboratory in Eindhoven, developing new electron tubes during World War II.

Many detailed observations of gas ionization were done with colleagues, finding notable results for helium and magnetic fields. He made precise measurements of Townsend coefficients and cathode voltage fall.

Penning trap[edit]

The Penning trap stores charged particles by magnetic and electric fields. It was named after Penning by Hans Georg Dehmelt who built the first trap. Dehmelt got inspiration from the vacuum gauge built by Penning where a current through a discharge tube in a magnetic field is proportional to the pressure. Penning traps are currently used for magnetic measurements and are an active research topic.

Penning ionization[edit]

Penning ionization is a form of chemi-ionization, an ionization process involving reactions between neutral atoms or molecules.[3][4] Penning first reported the effect it in 1927.[5] The Penning effect is used in gas-discharge neon lamps and fluorescent lamps, where the lamp is filled with a Penning mixture to improve the electrical characteristics.

Penning gauge[edit]

Penning invented a type of cold cathode vacuum gauge known as the Penning gauge,[6][7] which Phillips commercialized.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Frans Michel Penning (1894-1953)". Archived from the original on 2015-08-11. Retrieved 2014-10-31. 
  2. ^ Frans Michel Penning (1923). "Metingen over isopyknen van gassen bij lage temperaturen" (PDF). 
  3. ^ Arango CA, Shapiro M, Brumer P (2006). "Cold atomic collisions: coherent control of penning and associative ionization". Phys. Rev. Lett. 97 (19): 193202. arXiv:physics/0610131Freely accessible. Bibcode:2006PhRvL..97s3202A. doi:10.1103/PhysRevLett.97.193202. PMID 17155624. 
  4. ^ Hiraoka K, Furuya H, Kambara S, Suzuki S, Hashimoto Y, Takamizawa A (2006). "Atmospheric-pressure Penning ionization of aliphatic hydrocarbons". Rapid Commun. Mass Spectrom. 20 (21): 3213–22. doi:10.1002/rcm.2706. PMID 17016831. 
  5. ^ Penning, F. M. Die Naturwissenschaften, 1927, 15, 818. Über Ionisation durch metastabile Atome.
  6. ^ Sella, Andrea. "Penning's vacuum gauge". Chemistry World. Royal Society of Chemistry. Retrieved 2012-10-31. 
  7. ^ Penning, F.M. (1937). "Ein neues manometer für niedrige gasdrucke, insbesondere zwischen l0−3 und 10−5 mm". Physica. 4 (2): 71–75. Bibcode:1937Phy.....4...71P. doi:10.1016/S0031-8914(37)80123-8. ISSN 0031-8914.