J D Bernal's x-ray diffraction camera, United Kingdom, 1928


Oscillation-rotation x-ray diffraction camera (believed to be the first constructed in Great Britain). Used by Professor Bernal.

John Desmond Bernal (1901-71), an Irish physicist, used this X-ray diffraction camera at the Royal Institution in London. When X-rays are passed through crystals they scatter to create a pattern that can be used to determine the structures of molecules. Known today as X-ray crystallography, it was a crucial technique used to understand the structure of penicillin, DNA and insulin. Bernal was also interested in the social function of science and wrote widely on the history of science.

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Experimental Chemistry
Object Number:
x-ray diffraction camera
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  • scientific equipment
The Royal Institution

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