The Royal Adelaide Hospital was an early adopter of X ray technology.

WILLIAM AND LAWRENCE BRAGGS' NOBEL
PRIZE  IN 1915
 the zenith of Adelaide's 
link with X-ray science and technology 

 

X-RAYS ARE A THREAD THAT WEAVES TOGETHER SEVERAL ASPECTS OF SOUTH AUSTRALIAN LIFE  and achievement.

Most prominently, Adelaide became the starting point for William Bragg and his son Lawrence to share the 1915 Nobel Prize physics prize for their work in X-ray spectra, X-ray diffraction and crystal structure.

William Bragg became interested in X-rays during his time (1885-1908) as lecturer in mathematics and experimental physics at Adelaide University where he built an excellent science department.

Born in North Adelaide, William’s son Lawrence made his first scientific contribution as a boy when he broke his arm. His father used the recently discovered X-rays to look at the break; the first surgical use of X-rays in Australia.

William Bragg in 1896 showed a meeting of Adelaide doctors the application of “X-rays to reveal structures that were otherwise invisible.

Samuel Barbour, senior chemist from F.H. Faulding & Co., an Adelaide pharmaceutical manufacturer, supplied the necessary apparatus in the form of glass Crookes discharge discharge tube that he had brought back from Leeds, England.

The tube was attached to an induction coil and a battery borrowed from Charles Todd, Bragg’s father-in-law. The induction coil produced the electric spark necessary for Bragg and Barbour to “generate short bursts of X-rays”.

Adelaide’s contribution to the use of X rays continued through the 20th Century when in 1952, Ken Metcalfe and Bob Wright of the Defence Standards Laboratory (formerly the Munitions Supply Laboratory) adapted xerography for industrial and military use. They began to use liquid developers allowed copying of images containing continuous tones. Their invention ushered in colour copying by overprinting consecutive images using different coloured liquid developers.

In the 21st Century, Micro-X, a South Australian company started by Peter Rowland, was developing small lightweight battery-operated X-ray systems that will take hospital bedside imaging to the next level.

 

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