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Lord Kelvin

William Thomson was born in Belfast in
1824, son of a mathematics professor he
was educated in Scotland at the University of
Glasgow, entering at the tender young age of 10
years. He graduated from Cambridge University in
1845. Thomson spent a year working with Pierre and
Marie Curie and Henri Bequerel in Paris before leaving
to set up the Worlds' first dedicated Physics Laboratory
at Glasgow University in 1846.

Thomson was knighted in 1886 for his impressive
contributions to thermodynamics, electromagnetic theory and communication, including the first transatlantic cable link. In 1892 he received the title 'Baron Kelvin of Largs', the 'Kelvin' is a stream running through the Glasgow University Campus.

Kelvin was an exceptional talent and Glasgow was a hot-bed of scientific development around the time he held tenure. Kelvin rose to become Rector of Glasgow University and it says a lot about the man that, upon retiring, he enrolled as a student at Glasgow University.

Lord Kelvin died in 1907 and was buried next to Issac Newton in Westminster Abbey. He published some 661 papers, took out 70 patents and had more initials after his name that any other man in the British Commonwealth.

By all accounts Kelvin was one of the most gifted scientists of his generation: a talented orator and was sufficiently confident of his experimental achievements to incorporate public demonstrations of his methods. Kelvin's original 'probe' consisted of two large discs of Copper and Zinc (which have clean work functions of 4.6 and 4.7 eV respectively) mounted on insulating shafts. He did not vibrate this arrangement (as we do now) but brought the disk either closer together or further apart to demonstrate charge flow using a gold-leaf electroscope.

Aside from his academic endeavors Kelvin would have today been recognized as a serial entrepreneur: developing a wide range of equipment and techniques in his own commercial laboratory. He is thus a role model for KP Technology and indeed scientists, engineers and educators worldwide.

KP Technology has supplied ambient and ultrahigh vacuum Kelvin Probe systems to both the Physics and Chemistry departments at Glasgow University and 3 systems to the Nanotechnology Department at the University of Ulster, Belfast, Lord Kelvin's birthplace. Prof. Baikie has also had the honor on several occasions of lecturing to postgraduate science students at Glasgow University, in Kelvin's old Department.

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