In the history of physics, X-rays are a quite recent discovery. Shortly after Conrad Röntgen had detected the first human made "X-Strahlen", X-rays where used for medical imaging purposes. Since then the number of applications and methods using X-rays have increased tremendously. The table below will give a short time table of the history of X-ray optics.


Date Event Names correlated Where?
27.3.1845 Birth of Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen in Remscheid-Lennep Wilhelm Conrad Röntgen Remscheid-Lennep, Germany
5.11.1895 Discovery of X-rays in the late evening of Friday, 8. November 1895 in the former "Physikalischen Institut der Universität Würzburg". W. C. Röntgen called them "X-Strahlen". W. C. Röntgen Würzburg, Germany
28.12.1985 Application for publication of W. C. Röntgen: "Über eine neue Art von Strahlen" (On a New Kind of Rays) at the "Physikalisch-medizinische Gesellschaft Würzburg" (physical-medical association) W. C. Röntgen Würzburg, Germany
23.1.1896 First public talk of W. C. Röntgen invited by the "Physikalisch-medizinische Gesellschaft Würzburg" (physical-medical association) on "Über eine neue Art von Strahlen" (On a New Kind of Rays). At this convention the famous anatomist and privy councillor Rudolf Albert von Koelliker suggested to call X-rays "Roentgenstrahlen" (the term used in german language today). W. C. Röntgen, R. A. von Koelliker Würzburg, Germany
since 1896 Developement of water-cooled anodes for X-ray tubes by "C.H.F. Müller Röntgenwerk" Carl Heinrich, Florenz Müller Hamburg, Germany
1909 Barkla and Sadler discover characteristic X-ray radiation Barkla, Sadler  

Discovery of the principle of X-ray diffraction by von Laue, Friedrich, and Knipping

Max von Laue, Friedrich and Knipping Zurich, Swiss
1913 Henry Moseley establishes the relation between atomic number and the specific X-ray wavelength of elements (Moseley's law) which is the fundament of X-ray fluorescence spectroscopy Henry Moseley Manchester
1913 Bragg, father and son, build an X-ray spectrometer Bragg  
1914 Max von Laue receives the Nobel Prize for physics, for his discovery of the diffraction of X-rays on crystals Max von Laue Stockholm, Sweden
1914 The Nobel prize winner W. L. Bragg publishes his theoretical explanation of "The Diffraction of Short Electromagnetic Waves by a Crystal" W. L. Bragg  
1915 W. L. Bragg receives the Nobel Prize W. L. Bragg Stockholm, Sweden
1916 Siegbahn and Stenstrom observe X-ray emission satellites Siegbahn, Stenstrom  
1917 Barkla receives the Nobel Prize Barkla Stockholm, Sweden
1921 Wentzel observes two-electron excitations Wentzel  
1922 Meitner discovers Auger electrons Meitner  
1924 Lindh and Lundquist resolve chemical shifts Lindh, Lundquist  
1924 Siegbahn receives the Nobel Prize Siegbahn Stockholm, Sweden
1924-44? Philips patents the safe Metalix tube, takes over Muller and concentrates tube manufacturing in Eindhoven and Hamburg.    
1927 Coster and Druyvesteyn observe valence-core multiplets Coster, Druyvesteyn  
1931 Johann develops bent-crystal spectroscopy Johann  
1945-69? In cooperation with the US Naval Research Laboratories, North American Philips develops the world's first commercial X-ray diffractometer, which is branded Norelco, soon to be followed by the well-known Philips PW1050 diffractometer.    
1952 Hans Wolter designes an aplanatic system of grazing incidence mirrors satisfying the Abbe sine condition (i.e. free of both spherical aberration and coma) used in Wolter telescopes Hans Wolter  
1957-1970 Development of first prototypes of computer tomographs Allan M. Cormack, Godfrey Hounsfield, A. Sasov et al Tufts University, Massachusetts, USA; Hayes, UK; Moscow
1963 First rocket-borne telescope takes X-ray pictures of the sun. John V. Lindsay et al NASA Goddard Space Flight Center
1970-89? Launch of the PW1400 family of XRF spectrometers, rapidly becoming the standard in the industry    
1971 First computer tomographic image of a human Godfrey Hounsfield  
early 1970's First orbiting X-ray telescope flies on Skylab and records over 35,000 full-disk images of the sun over a nine month period.    
1975 The first successful X-ray image of an extra-solar object is obtained using a Kirkpatrick-Baez mirror coupled with an imaging proportional counter to obtain an image of the Virgo cluster of galaxies. Paul Gorenstein et al Smithsonian Astrophysical Observatory
1977 First use of Wolter optics for extra-solar astronomy Saul Rappaport et al MIT
1978 First orbiting X-ray telescope, the Einstein Observatory    

Nobel Prize (medicine) for Allan M. Cormack and Godfrey Hounsfield for the development of computer tomography

  Stockholm, Sweden
1983-86 Use of "European Space Agency's X-ray Observatory" (EXOSAT)    
1990-99 "Roentgen Satellite" (ROSAT) mission    
1993-2001 "Advanced Satellite for Cosmology and Astrophysics" (ASCA): the first satellite using CCD-detectors for X-ray astronomy    
1994 First soft X-ray scanning transmission microscope (STXM) Haddad  
1995 Herbert Göbel presents the so called Göbel mirrors at the Denver X-ray conference Herbert Göbel Denver
since 1999 "Chandra X-Ray Observatory" (CXO) in use    



We use cookies on our website. Some of them are essential for the operation of the site, while others help us to improve this site and the user experience (tracking cookies). You can decide for yourself whether you want to allow cookies or not. Please note that if you reject them, you may not be able to use all the functionalities of the site.