Francis William Aston

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Francis William Aston (1 September 1877 – 20 November 1945) was a British chemist and physicist who invented the mass spectrometer. He won the 1922 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work with isotopes.[1]

Aston built the first mass spectrometer in 1919. This tool measures the mass-to-charge ratio of particles. By this time, Frederick Soddy had discovered different forms of some radioactive elements. These were called isotopes. However, Soddy could not prove that isotopes had different mass.[2]

Using his mass spectrometer, Aston proved this. He first found that neon had isotopes with different masses. He discovered many isotopes for non-radioactive elements. In total, he discovered 212 isotopes.

Aston developed the whole number rule, which says that the mass of atoms have whole-number ratios to each other.[1]

Aston was a fellow of the Royal Society[3] and Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge.[4]

Replica of Aston's third mass spectrometer

References[change | change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 "The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1922". Retrieved 2022-12-08.
  2. Giunta, Carmen (2017). "Isotopes: Identifying the Breakthrough Publication" (PDF). Bulletin for the History of Chemistry. 42 (2): 103–111. Archived (PDF) from the original on 2020-07-21.
  3. Hevesy, G. (1948). "Francis William Aston. 1877–1945". Obituary Notices of Fellows of the Royal Society. 5 (16): 634–650. doi:10.1098/rsbm.1948.0002. JSTOR 768761. S2CID 191531223.
  4. "Dr. F.W. Aston Dies. Winner of the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1922. Noted for His Work With Isotopes. In Tour of This Country 23 Years Ago, He Foresaw the Releasing of New Energy. Developed Isotopes. Headed Atom Committee. Lectured in This Country". The New York Times. 22 November 1945. Retrieved 6 August 2010. The death of Dr. Francis William Aston, fellow of the Royal Society and Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge, was announced today. He was 68 years old.