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National Museum of Nuclear Science & History

Frank J. Schnettler

MetallurgistLos Alamos, NM

Columbia University
Manhattan Project VeteranScientist
Frank J. Schnettler

Frank J. Schnettler was an American metallurgist who studied the properties of plutonium at Los Alamos.

Schnettler worked for Bell Labs for much of his career. Before the war, Schnettler worked as Jack Scaff’s technical assistant at Bell, before leaving to get his Ph.D. in metallurgy at Columbia. Schnettler returned to Bell after the war, where he published papers and patents in materials science.

Schnettler worked closely with Eric Jette, both at Columbia and at Los Alamos when Jette was recruited to the Manhattan Project. With Jette at Los Alamos, Schnettler helped study plutonium’s physical properties, including its expansion, conductivity, and response to pressure. Schnettler and his team’s crystallographic studies of plutonium also confirmed that plutonium has five phases. These studies of plutonium’s electronic structure and physical characteristics aided efforts to develop successful fabrication processes.

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