Max Theodor Felix Von Laue
(1879 - 1960)
German recipient of the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1914 for his discovery
of the diffraction of X rays in crystals. This enabled scientists to
study the structure of crystals and hence marked the origin of solid-state
physics, an important field in the development of modern electronics.
Laue became professor of physics at the University of Zurich in 1912.
Laue was the first to suggest the use of a crystal to act as a grating
for the diffraction of X rays, showing that if a beam of X rays passed
through a crystal, diffraction would take place and a pattern would
be formed on a photographic plate placed at a right angle to the direction
of the rays. The pattern would mark out the symmetrical arrangements
of the atoms in the crystal. (See Laue diffraction pattern.) This was
verified experimentally in 1912 by two of Laue's students working under
his direction. This success demonstrated that X rays are electromagnetic
radiations similar to light and also provided experimental proof that
the atomic structure of crystals is a regularly repeating arrangement.
Laue championed Albert Einstein's theory of relativity, did research
on the quantum theory, the Compton effect (change of wavelength in light
under certain conditions), and the disintegration of atoms. He became
director of the Institute for Theoretical Physics at the University
of Berlin in 1919 and director of the Max Planck Institute for Research
in Physical Chemistry, Berlin, in 1951.