Katharine Burr Blodgett, US physicist

Katharine Burr Blodgett, US physicist

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Credit: SMITHSONIAN INSTITUTION/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

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Caption: Katharine Burr Blodgett (1898-1979), US physicist, demonstrating equipment in her laboratory. Blodgett was the first woman to be awarded a Ph.D. in physics from the University of Cambridge, in 1926. After receiving her master's degree, she was hired by General Electric, where she invented low-reflectance invisible glass. She developed monomolecular coatings designed to cover surfaces of water, metal, or glass. Non-reflective lenses using this technology were used in the post-war film industry. Blodgett's glass was also used for submarine periscopes and airplane spy cameras during World War II. Blodgett also invented a colour gauge and worked on improvements to the light bulb. Her studies on electrical discharges in gases helped lay the foundations for plasma physics.

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