Heinrich Greinacher

Physicist, Deceased Person

1880 – 1974


Who was Heinrich Greinacher?

Heinrich Greinacher was a German-Swiss physicist. He is regarded as an original experimenter and is the developer of the magnetron and the Greinacher multiplier.

Greinacher was the only child of master shoemaker Heinrich Greinacher and his wife Pauline, born M├╝nzenmayer. He went to school in St. Gallen and studied physics at both Zurich, Geneva and Berlin. He also trained as a pianist at the Geneva Conservatory of Music. Originally a German citizen, he was naturalized in 1894 as a Swiss citizen. In Berlin, Greinacher attended the lectures of Max Planck and received a doctorate in 1904 under Emil Warburg. He did his habilitation in 1907 at the University of Zurich, and in 1912, he moved to Zurich on a permanent basis. From 1924 to 1952, he was full professor of Experimental Physics at the University of Bern and the director of the Physical Institute.

In 1912, Greinacher developed the magnetron and gave a fundamental mathematical description of this tube. In 1914, he invented the Greinacher multiplier. In 1920, he generalized this idea to a cascaded voltage multiplier, and developed detection methods for charged particles. In the 1930s, using an independently invented Greinacher-style multiplier to research atomic nuclei, British researchers discovered artificial radioactivity.

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May 31, 1880
St. Gallen
  • Germany
  • Switzerland
  • University of Zurich
Apr 17, 1974

on July 23, 2013


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