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Great Engineers & Scientists

In 1676, Sir Isaac Newton wrote "If I have seen further it is by standing on ye shoulders of Giants." In this blog, we take Newton's words to heart, and recognize the many great engineers and scientists upon whose shoulders we stand.

So who do you think of when you hear "Great Engineer"? Let us know! Submit a few paragraphs about that person and we'll add him or her to the pantheon. Please provide a citation for the material that you submit so that we can verify it. Please note - it has to be original material. We cannot publish copywritten material or bulk text taken from books or other sites (including Wikipedia).

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Katherine Blodgett

Posted April 22, 2006 8:00 AM
Pathfinder Tags: January 10 October 12

Katherine Burr Blodgett was born on January 10, 1898 in Schenectady, New York. She spent much of her youth in Europe before receiving an undergraduate degree in physics from Bryn Mawr, a prominent women's college in Pennsylvania. After earning a master's degree from the University of Chicago, Blodgett returned to her hometown and became the first woman scientist at General Electric's Research Laboratory. Still a teenager, the 19-year old assisted Dr. Irving Langmuir, a future Nobel Laureate, with his research regarding monomolecular coatings. In 1924, Blodgett left GE to continue her education at England's prestigious Cambridge University, where she became the first woman to receive a Ph.D. in physics. During this time, Blodgett studied with Ernest Rutherford at Cavendish Laboratory, site of some of the most important discoveries in physics.

In 1926, Blodgett returned to General Electric's Research Laboratory to resume her work with Langmuir. Together, the scientists made breakthroughs in surface chemistry. During the 1930s, Blodgett applied Langmuir's theories to discover a way to apply layer upon layer of thin film to metal and glass. When layered to a specific thickness, these thin films reduced glare and distortion by canceling out surface reflection from the substrate. In 1938, Blodgett was awarded a United States patent for her "Film Structure and Method of Preparation" of invisible, nonreflective glass. As the clouds of war gathered over Europe, Blodgett's thin films were applied to periscopes, binoculars, range finders, and telescopes. During World War II, Blodgett served the Allied cause by finding ways to de-ice aircraft wings and generate smokescreens.

Blodgett's patented, nonreflective glass was the first of many achievements. To measure the thickness of thin films, she created a special color-based gauge for which she received six patents. In 1944, the American Association of University Women gave Blodgett its Achievement Award. She won the American Chemical Society's Garvan Award in 1951 and the Photographic Society of America's Progress Medal in 1972. Honorary doctorates from various colleges provided further testimony to her achievements. Though excluded from a history of General Electric that was published in 1953, Blodgett continued to work for GE until her retirement ten years later. On October 12, 1979, Blodgett died at her home in Schenectady. She was 81 years old.

References:

http://web.mit.edu/Invent/iow/blodgett.html
http://inventors.about.com/gi/dynamic/offsite.htm?site=http://www.engr.psu.edu/wep/EngCompSp98/Anursatria/biography.html
http://inventors.about.com/library/inventors/bl_Katherine_Blodgett.htm
http://home.frognet.net/~ejcov/blodgett.html
http://www.poindexters.com/blodgett.html

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Anonymous Poster
#1

Re: Katherine Blodgett

02/26/2007 8:45 AM

Blodgett didn't get the US patent in 1938 but on November 5, 1940 under number US 2220860. A lot of people write March 16, 1938 number 2220660, but noone has checked so far if this was right.

Taco Hermans

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#2
In reply to #1

Re: Katherine Blodgett

02/26/2007 8:51 AM

Hi Taco,

What's your source? Can you provide us with a link?

Moose

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Anonymous Poster
#3

Re: Katherine Blodgett

03/19/2007 6:19 PM

hello,i have to do a project about you and i'd just like to say that you are a great inventer!!!!!!!!

love,

naomi c.

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Anonymous Poster
#4

Re: Katherine Blodgett

03/19/2007 6:21 PM

KATHRINE BLODGETT ROCKS!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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