Sir Owen Willans Richardson (April 26, 1879 - February 15, 1959) was a British physicist, professor at Princeton University from 1906 to 1913, and a Nobel laureate in physics for his work on the thermionic phenomenon and discovery of Thermionic emissions leading to Richardson's Law.
Richardson was born in Dewsbury
, the only son of Joshua Henry and Charlotte Maria Richardson. He was educated at Batley Grammar School
, and graduated from Trinity College, Cambridge
in 1900 having gained First Class Honours in Natural Science.
In 1914 Richardson became professor of physics at King's College London, where he was later made director of research. He retired in 1944.
He was awarded the Hughes Medal by the Royal Society (of which he was a Fellow) in 1920 for his work in thermionics, which is the basis for the vacuum tube.
He also researched the photoelectric effect, the gyromagnetic effect, the emission of electrons by chemical reactions, soft X-rays, and the spectrum of hydrogen.
He was knighted in 1939. He died in 1959 aged 79.
Richardson's nephew was physicist Richard Davisson whose father Clinton Davisson was also a Nobel Prize in Physics laureate.