The Quantum Yield: An Historical Perspective
Updated: Oct 30, 2020
The article was originally published The Spectrum (Volume 18 Issue 1, 2005).
The 19th century, when Grotthuss still saw light as a line of elements of Aether with undetectable separation and Draper explained that photochemical reactions depended on compounds sensitive to incident radiation, came to a close with a paradigm shift. The accompanied, or was driven, by the tremendous changes occurring throughout society at the turn of the 20th century. Even rural areas of America were being electrified and the light bulb was soon to replace the kerosene lantern in house across the country. Telephones appeared, the auto arrived and little towns were made safer by community water supplies. The last years of the 19th century also saw enormous intellectual resources expended in German research institutes that were funded collaboratively by industry and the government and directed to develop, among other things, new ways to produce electric lighting. the emissions of light from heated so-called ' black bodies" represented on possibility for converting electricity into light that was studied in detail by physicists and engineers at the PTR in Berlin of which Werner von Siemens was a member of the board.
The seamless connections between these institutes and industrial collaborators was elaborated by the Board of Directors. Wien's equation, and experiments on emissions from black bodies by Pringsheim, Lummer and especially Rubens triggered Planck's law which appeared in December 1900.
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