Nuclear Museum Logo
Nuclear Museum Logo

National Museum of Nuclear Science & History

John Douglas Cockcroft

PhysicistUnited Kingdom

Manhattan Project VeteranNobel Prize WinnerScientist
John Cockroft

John Douglas Cockcroft was a British physicist and recipient of the 1951 Nobel Prize in Physics. 

He was a member of the Tizard Mission to the United States in the autumn of 1940. He was later appointed Head of the Air Defence Research and Development Establishment. In 1944 he went to Canada to take charge of the Canadian Atomic Energy project and became Director of the Montreal and Chalk River Laboratories.


Scientific Contributions

Cockcroft designed the Cockcroft-Walton generator in 1932, which established the importance of accelerators in nuclear research, technology that would help the Manhattan Project succeed.  During World War II, Cockcroft took up a war-time appointment as Assistant Director of Scientific Research in the Ministry of Supply and started to work on the application of radar to coast and air defence problems in 1939.

He was awarded a 1951 Nobel Prize in Physics for his pioneering use of particle accelerators in studying the atom. For information about Cockcroft’s scientific achievements, visit the Nobel Prize website

John Douglas Cockcroft's Timeline
1897 May 27th Born in Todmorden, England.
19151918 Served in the Royal Field Artillery during World War I.
1915 Studied mathematics at Manchester University under Horace Lamb.
1919 Returned to Manchester University to study electrical engineering at the College of Technology under Miles Walker.
1924 Completed a two years apprenticeship with Metropolitan Vickers Electrical Company and went to St. John's College, Cambridge to take the Mathematical Tripos.
1929 Elected to a Fellowship in St. John's College and became a University demonstrator and lecturer.
1939 Became the Jacksonian Professor of Natural Philosophy.
1934 Took charge of the Royal Society Mond Laboratory in Cambridge.
1939 Took a war-time appointment as Assistant Director of Scientific Research in the Ministry of Supply.
1940 Came to the United States as a member of the Tizard Mission.
1944 Went to Canada to take charge of the Canadian Atomic Energy project.
1946 Returned to Britain and set up the Atomic Energy Research Establishment.
19541959 Scientific research member of the U.K. Atomic Energy Authority.
19611965 Chancellor of the Australian National University
19601962 President of the Physical Society.
19611963 President of the British Association for the Advancement of Science.
1961 Awarded the Atoms for Peace Award.
1967 Sep 18th Died in Cambridge, England.

Related Profiles

Fred L. Houston

Oak Ridge, TN

Fred Houston worked for the United States Engineer District Office.

Eugene F. Roy

K-25 Plant

Attended Purdue University.

Archaball W. Gordanier

Los Alamos, NM

I. A. Dimbler

Hanford, WA