- A capillary electrometer measures small differences in electric potential in terms of changes in surface tension between mercury and an electrolytic solution in a capillary tube. This example represents the design introduced by Wilhelm Ostwald (1853-1982), a University of Leipzig professor who won the 1909 Nobel prize in Chemistry. The “FRITZ KOHLER / LEIPZIG” and “GERMANY” inscription is that of the Universitäts-Mechaniker at Leipzig. “DRGM” means that the design was registered within Germany. Kőhler was in business by 1897, and he showed an instrument of this sort at the International Exhibition held in St. Louis in 1904.
- Ostwald’s design was a modification of the form that Gabriel Lippmann (1845-1921) had introduced in his 1873 PhD dissertation. A Jewish scientist from Luxembourg who spent most of his life in Paris, Lipmann won the 1908 Nobel Prize in Physics for his method of reproducing colors photographically.
- Ref: John T. Stock, “Gabriel Lippman and the Capillary Electrometer,” Bulletin of the History of Chemistry 29 (2004): 16-20.
- Fritz Kőhler, Physico=Photo=Chemische Apparate (Leipzig, 1909), p. 25.
- German Empire, Special Catalogue of the Hygiene Exhibition (Berlin, 1904), p. 231.
- Currently not on view
- Object Name
- Capillary Electrometer
- Associated Place
- United States: New Jersey
- microscope: 10.8 cm x 2.5 cm; 4 1/4 in x in
- each tube: 15 cm; 5 7/8 in
- mirror: 3.5 cm; x 1 3/8 in
- overall: 34.3 cm x 16 cm x 20.2 cm; 13 1/2 in x 6 5/16 in x 7 15/16 in
- overall: 18 in x 10 1/2 in; 45.72 cm x 26.67 cm
- ID Number
- catalog number
- accession number
- Credit Line
- Gift of Rutgers University Department of Physics
- See more items in
- Medicine and Science: Chemistry
- Data Source
- National Museum of American History
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