William Duane (physicist)

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William Duane
Born(1872-02-17)February 17, 1872
DiedMarch 7, 1935(1935-03-07) (aged 63)
NationalityUnited States
Alma materBerlin University
Known forDuane-Hunt law
Duane's hypothesis
AwardsComstock Prize in Physics (1923)
Scientific career
InstitutionsHarvard University
Doctoral advisorWalther Nernst
InfluencesMadame Curie
InfluencedAlfred Landé

William Duane (February 17, 1872 – March 7, 1935) 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 momentum 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] for his work on "relations of fundamental significance...in their bearings upon modern theories of the structure of matter and on the mechanism of radiation."[2]

Selected publications[edit]

  • Duane, William (1905). "Sur l'ionisation de l'air en présence de l'émanation du radium". Journal de Physique Théorique et Appliquée. 4 (1): 605–619. doi:10.1051/jphystap:019050040060500. ISSN 0368-3893.
  • Duane, William (1905). "Sur l'ionization produite entre les plateaux paralleles par l'émanation du radium". Comptes rendus de l'Académie des Sciences. 140: 786–788.


  1. ^ "Comstock Prize in Physics". National Academy of Sciences. Retrieved 13 February 2011.
  2. ^ del Regato, Juan A. (1985). "Chapter VI: William Duane". Radiological Physicists. American Institute of Physics. pp. 65–75. ISBN 978-0-88318-469-1.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]