McMillan, Edwin Mattison

McMillan, Edwin Mattison,

1907–91, American physicist, b. Redondo Beach, Calif., grad. California Institute of Technology, 1928, Ph.D. Princeton, 1932. On the faculty of the Univ. of California from 1932, he was appointed professor of physics in 1946 and director of the Lawrence Radiation Laboratory (now the Lawrence Berkeley National LaboratoryLawrence Berkeley National Laboratory
and Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory,
scientific research centers run by the Univ. of California, located in Berkeley, Calif., and Livermore, Calif., respectively. They are named for their founder, physicist Ernest O.
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) in 1958. With P. H. Abelson he discovered neptunium (element 93) and with Glenn SeaborgSeaborg, Glenn Theodore
, 1912–99, American chemist, b. Ishpeming, Mich., grad. Univ. of California at Los Angeles, 1934, Ph.D. Univ. of California at Berkeley, 1937.
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 and others, plutonium (element 94). For his work on the chemistry of the transuranium elements he shared the 1951 Nobel Prize in Chemistry with Seaborg. He also contributed to microwave radar and sonar, and to the design of particle accelerators. He worked (1942–45) on the atomic bomb at Los Alamos.

McMillan, Edwin Mattison


Born Sept. 18, 1907, in Redondo Beach, Calif. American physicist.

In 1928, McMillan graduated from the California Institute of Technology in Pasadena. In 1935 he began working at the radiation laboratory of the University of California, becoming the laboratory’s director in 1958. He also became a professor at the university in 1946. His main works are devoted to nuclear physics and to the technology involved in the acceleration of elementary particles. In 1940, McMillan discovered the first transuranium element, neptunium, by irradiating a uranium target with neutrons; he was also co-discoverer of plutonium (1940-41). In 1945, somewhat later than but independently of V. I. Veksler, he proposed the principle of phase stability in accelerators. McMillan received a Nobel Prize in 1951 with G. Seaborg.


“The Synchrotron: A Proposed High-Energy Particle Accelerator.” Physical Review, 1945, vol. 68, no. 5, p. 143.