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Guide to the Robert Vose Langmuir Papers, 1941-1990
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  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Biography
  • Scope and Content

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Robert Vose Langmuir Papers,
    Date (inclusive): 1941-1990
    Creator: Langmuir, Robert Vose (1912-1993)
    Extent: Linear feet: 1
    Repository: California Institute of Technology. Archives.
    Pasadena, California 91125
    Language: English.

    Administrative Information


    Collection is open for research.

    Publication Rights

    Copyright has not been assigned to the California Institute of Technology Archives. All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Head of the Archives. Permission for publication is given on behalf of the California Institute of Technology Archives as the owner of the physical items and is not intended to include or imply permission of the copyright holder, which must also be obtained by the reader.

    Preferred Citation

    [Identification of item, Box and file number], Robert Vose Langmuir Papers, Archives, California Institute of Technology.


    Langmuir, Robert Vose (1912-1993) PHYSICIST, ELECTRICAL ENGINEER
    Caltech Professor of Electrical Engineering, 1952-1980; Caltech Assistant Professor of Physics, 1950-1952; Caltech Senior Research Fellow, 1948-1950; Caltech alumnus (Ph.D., 1943).
    Born December 20, 1912, in White Plains, New York, Langmuir received his A.B. from Harvard College in 1935. From 1939 to 1942, he worked for Consolidated Engineering Corporation of Pasadena on the development of the first commercial mass spectrometer. In 1942, he took a position with General Electric Company in Schenectady, New York, where he helped to develop CW magnetrons for jamming enemy radar during World War II. After the war, he invented another mass spectrometer, the omegatron, for which he was awarded the patent. With Pollock and Elder, he designed and constructed the first synchrotron to operate in the U.S., the 70 MeV. With this team, he was the co-discoverer in 1947 of synchrotron radiation and wrote the pioneering paper which provided experimental verification (Physical Review 74 (1948)). In 1948, Langmuir returned to Caltech to participate in the building of the 1.5 BeV synchrotron (1948-1960). At Caltech, he taught courses in electricity and magnetism, and in electronics, while conducting research in various topics in applied physics and engineering.

    Scope and Content

    The Robert Vose Langmuir papers document only a small portion of Langmuir's work. Notably absent is material on the Caltech synchrotron. Files include technical reports from the General Electric period, with an acccount of the discovery of synchrotron radiation by Pollock; patent documents beginning in 1945; course notes and problem sets from Caltech; and a selection of research and writing projects from the 1940s through 1990.