William Duane (physicist)

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William Duane
Born (1872-02-17)February 17, 1872
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA
Died March 7, 1935(1935-03-07) (aged 63)
Nationality United States
Fields Physics
Institutions Harvard University
Alma mater Berlin University
Doctoral advisor Walther Nernst
Known for Duane-Hunt law
Influences Madame Curie
Influenced Alfred Landé
Notable awards Comstock Prize in Physics (1923)

William Duane (February 17, 1872, at Philadelphia – March 7, 1935, in Devon, Pennsylvania) was an American physicist. A coworker of Marie Curie, he developed a method for generating quantities of radon in the laboratory.


Display about Duane at the University of Colorado Boulder


  • 1888-1892 University of Pennsylvania
  • 1892-1895 Harvard University
  • 1895 Universities of Göttingen (as a Tyndall Fellow)
  • 1895-1897 Berlin

doctor father: Max Planck

Academic career[edit]

  • 1898-1907 professor at the University of Colorado Boulder
  • 1908-1913 at the laboratory of Pierre and Marie Curie in Paris
  • 1913-1917 assistant professor of physics at Harvard University
  • 1917-1934 professor of biophysics at Harvard University

research activities[edit]

  • radioactivity
  • X-ray spectroscopy, Duane-Hunt law, relating the minimum wavelength of X-rays to the threshold voltage of the cathode rays that excite them; and Duane's hypothesis of quantized translative momemtum transfer.


Starting in 1925, Duane began suffering a continual decline in health brought on by diabetes. This culminated in his death on 7 March 1935 due to his second paralytic stroke.

Honours and awards[edit]

The physics department building in the University of Colorado Boulder is named after him. In 1923 Duane was awarded the Comstock Prize in Physics from the National Academy of Sciences.[1]



  1. ^ "Comstock Prize in Physics". National Academy of Sciences. Retrieved 13 February 2011. 

External links[edit]