Cruickshank, William

SUBJECT AREA: Electricity
d. 1810/11 Scotland
Scottish chemist and surgeon, inventor of a trough battery developed from Volta's pile.
Cruickshank graduated MA from King's College, Aberdeen, in 1765, and later gained a Diploma of the Royal College of Surgeons. When chemistry was introduced in 1788 into the course at the Royal Military Academy in Woolwich, Cruickshank became a member of staff, serving as Assistant to Dr A.Crawford, the Lecturer in Chemistry. Upon Crawford's death in 1796 Cruickshank succeeded him as Lecturer and held the post until his retirement due to ill health in 1804. He also held the senior posts of Chemist to the Ordnance at Woolwich and Surgeon to the Ordnance Medical Department. He should not be confused with William Cumberland Cruickshank (1745–1800), who was also a surgeon and Fellow of the Royal Society. In 1801, shortly after Volta's announcement of his pile, Cruickshank built a voltaic pile to facilitate his experiments in electrochemistry. The pile had zinc and silver plates about 1½ in2 (10 cm2) with interposed papers moistened with ammonium chloride. Dissatisfied with this arrangement, Cruickshank devised a horizontal trough battery in which a wooden box was divided into cells, each holding a pair of zinc and silver or zinc and copper plates. Charged with a dilute solution of ammonium chloride, the battery, which was typically of sixty cells, was found to be more convenient to use than a pile and it, or a derivative, was generally adopted for electrochemical experiments including tose of Humphrey Davy during the early years of the nineteenth century.
Principal Honours and Distinctions
FRS 1802.
1801, article in Nicholsons Journal 4:187–91 (describes Cruickshank's original pile). 1801, article in Nicholsons Journal 4:245–64 (describes his trough battery).
Further Reading
B.Bowers, 1982, A History of Electric Light and Power, London (a short account). A.Courts, 1959, "William Cruickshank", Annals of Science 15:121–33 GW

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

Look at other dictionaries:

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