Branly, Edouard Eugène

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b. 23 October 1844 Amiens, France
d. 24 March 1940 Paris, France
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French electrical engineer, who c.1890 invented the coherer for detecting radio waves.
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Branly received his education at the Lycée de Saint Quentin in the Département de l'Aisne and at the Henri IV College of Paris University, where he became a Fellow of the University, graduating as a Doctor of Physics in 1873. That year he was appointed a professor at the College of Bourges and Director of Physics Instruction at the Sorbonne. Three years later he moved to the Free School in Paris as Professor of Advanced Studies. In addition to these responsibilities, he qualified as an MD in 1882 and practised medicine from 1896 to 1916. Whilst carrying out experiments with Hertzian (radio) waves in 1890, Branly discovered that a tube of iron filings connected to a source of direct voltage only became conductive when the radio waves were present. This early form of rectifier, which he called a coherer and which needed regular tapping to maintain its response, was used to operate a relay when the waves were turned on and off by Morse signals, thus providing the first practical radio communication.
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Principal Honours and Distinctions
Papal Order of Commander of St George 1899. Légion d'honneur, Chevalier 1900, Commandeur 1925. Osiris Prize (jointly with Marie Curie) 1903. Argenteuil Prize and Associate of the Royal Belgian Academy 1910. Member of the Academy of Science 1911. State Funeral at Notre Dame Cathedral.
Bibliography
Amongst his publications in Comptes rendus were "Conductivity of mediocre conductors", "Conductivity of gases", "Telegraphic conduction without wires" and "Conductivity of imperfect conductors realised at a distance by wireless by spark discharge of a capacitor".
Further Reading
E.Hawkes, 1927, Pioneers of Wireless, London: Methuen. E.Larien, 1971, A History of Invention, London: Victor Gollancz.
V.J.Phillips: 1980, Early Radio Wave Detectors, London: Peter Peregrinus.
KF

Biographical history of technology. - Taylor & Francis e-Librar. . 2005.

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