Thomson’s Contributions

Some of Joseph Thomson’s contributions are the discovery of the electron, its atomic model, the discovery of isotopes or the cathode ray experiment.


Table of Contents

Thomson’s main contributions to science

Discovery of the electron

In 1897, JJ Thomson discovered a new particle lighter than hydrogen.

Hydrogen was considered a unit of measurement of atomic weight. Until that time, the atom was the smallest division of matter.

In this sense, Thomson was the first to discover corpuscular subatomic particles with a negative charge.

Atom separation

Thomson used positive or anodic rays to separate atoms of different masses. This method allowed him to calculate the electricity transported by each atom and the number of molecules per cubic centimeter.

By being able to divide atoms of different mass and charge, the physicist discovered the existence of isotopes. Also in this way, with his study of the positive rays he produced a great advance towards mass spectrometry.

Isotope discovery

JJ Thomson discovered that neon ions had different masses, that is, a different atomic weight. This is how Thomson showed that the neon has two subtypes of isotopes, neon-20 and neon-22.

The isotopes, studied until today, are atoms of the same element but their nuclei have different mass numbers, since they are composed of different amounts of neutrons in their center.

Mass spectrometer

JJ Thomson created a first approach to the mass spectrometer. This tool allowed the scientist to study the mass / charge ratio of cathode ray tubes and measure how much they deviate from the influence of a magnetic field and the amount of energy they carry.

With this investigation, he concluded that the cathode rays were composed of negatively charged corpuscles, which are within the atoms, which postulates the divisibility of the atom and gives rise to the figure of the electron.

In addition, advances in mass spectrometry continued to the present, evolving in different methods to separate electrons from atoms.

Thomson was also the first to suggest The First Waveguide in 1893. This experiment consisted of the propagation of electromagnetic waves in a controlled cylindrical cavity, which was first performed in 1897 by Lord Rayleigh, another Nobel Prize in physics.

Waveguides would be widely used in the future, even today with data transmission and optical fiber.

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