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William Coolidge, US physicist

William Coolidge, US physicist

H403/0506

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Credit

GENERAL ELECTRIC RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT / EMILIO SEGRE VISUAL ARCHIVES / AMERICAN INSTITUTE OF INSTITUTE OF PHYSICS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY GENERAL ELECTRIC RESEARCH AND DEVELOPMENT / EMILIO SEGRE VISUAL ARCHIVES / AMERICAN INSTITUTE OF INSTITUTE OF PHYSICS / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

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Caption

William David Coolidge (1873-1975), US physicist, engineer and inventor, holding an early model of the X-ray tube he invented. Coolidge obtained his doctorate in physics in 1899. He taught physical chemistry until 1905, and then joined the General Electric Company (GEC). It was there, in 1908, that he discovered how to make tungsten ductile, greatly increasing the life of the tungsten filaments in electric light bulbs. In 1916, he improved X-ray tubes by replacing the cold aluminium cathode with a hot tungsten cathode. In 1940, he became Director of Research at GEC, and later vice-president. Photographed in 1967 during celebrations marking Coolidge's 94th birthday and the 50th anniversary of his X-ray tube invention.

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