Francis William Aston: Correspondence and Papers

Scope and Content

Two notebooks, correspondence, and drafts and offprints of published and unpublished papers.

Administrative / Biographical History

Francis William Aston (1877-1945), experimental physicist, was educated at Malvern College and Mason College, Birmingham. He carried out research with P.F. Frankland and later J.H. Poynting, before becoming research assistant to Sir J.J. Thomson, 1910-1913, with whom he worked on the mass-analysis of positive rays by the parabola method. He was a student at Cambridge in 1913, then technical assistant at the Royal Aircraft Establishment, 1914-1918, before returning to Cambridge as a research fellow at Trinity College in 1920. At Cambridge, he built a mass-spectrograph and achieved the velocity focusing of positive rays. His second mass-spectrograph was used to carry out a complete survey of the elements between 1927 and 1935. Aston was made a Fellow of the Royal Society in 1921 and received the Nobel Prize for chemistry in 1922.

Access Information

Open for consultation by holders of a Reader's Ticket valid for the Manuscripts Reading Room.

Acquisition Information

Transferred from the Cavendish Laboratory, Cambridge, 1980.


Description compiled by Robert Steiner, Department of Manuscripts and University Archives. The biographical history was compiled with reference to the entry on Aston in the Concise Dictionary of National Biography, Part II, 1901-1970, p. 24 (Oxford University Press, 1982).

Other Finding Aids

Additional Manuscripts Catalogue.