Sir Owen Willans Richardson (1879-1959) [PLOT 8]


He won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1928 for his work on thermionic emission, which led to Richardson’s law.

Richardson was born in Dewsbury, Yorkshire, England, the only son of Joshua Henry and Charlotte Maria Richardson. He was educated at Batley Grammar School and Trinity College, Cambridge, where he gained First Class Honours in Natural Sciences. He then got a DSc from University of London in 1904.

After graduating in 1900, he began researching the emission of electricity from hot bodies at the Cavendish Laboratory in Cambridge, and in October 1902 he was made a fellow at Trinity. 

In 1901, he demonstrated that the current from a heated wire seemed to depend exponentially on the temperature of the wire with a mathematical form similar to the Arrhenius equation. This became known as Richardson’s law. {\displaystyle s=A\,T^{1/2}\,e^{-b/T}}he H He became a professor at Princeton University from 1906 to 1913, returning to the UK in 1914 to become Wheatstone Professor of Physics at King’s College London, where he was later made director of research. He retired in 1944 and died in 1959.

Richardson married Lilian Wilson, in 1906, and had two sons and a daughter.  Lilian’s death in 1945, he remarried in 1948 to Henriette Rupp, a physicist.

Owen’s son Harold Owen Richardson, specialised in Nuclear Physics and was the chairman of the, Physics Department, Bedford College, London University.