William A. Johnson
AIME Rossiter W. Raymond Memorial Award in 1947
All metallurgists are thoroughly aware of the importance of the diffusion of solids in solids. Such diffusion, the nature of which is imperfectly understood, enters importantly into many metallurgical processes from the preparation of homogeneous metallic materials to securing new structures and properties by thermal treatment, as in quenching of steel or age hardening of alloys of aluminum. Many laymen are now aware that uranium 235 was separated from ordinary uranium by gaseous diffusion using the principles underlying the physics of isotopes, but no layman and few metallurgists have been aware until recently that these principles can be used for the study of the diffusion of solids in solids.
The use of such methods was described in a paper entitled "Diffusion of the Stable Isotopes of Nickel in Copper" by William A. Johnson, which was considered outstanding among the many technical contributions by young men to A.I.M.E. during the past year, and well worthy of the second annual Rossiter W. Raymond Award. Dr. Johnson found that the relative proportion of the isotopes of nickel is altered by diffusion into copper and that the changes in isotopic constitution can be explained by assuming that they diffuse at a ratio inversely proportional to the square root of their mass. This work may have important ramifications not only for metallurgy, but also for atomic physics.
William Austin Johnson was born in Washington, November 9, 1913 and was educated in that city and at Lehigh University, where he graduated in 1935. He took post-graduate work as Westinghouse Re¬ search Fellow at Carnegie Institute of Technology and received his D.Sc. degree in 1940. After a short period as instructor at that school, he joined the research staff, Westinghouse Electric Corp., where he advanced rapidly to manager of the metallurgy section of the Westinghouse Re¬ search Laboratories. A few months ago he was selected to take charge of the new metallurgical division of the Clinton Laboratories at Oak Ridge, Tenn., in connection with the military and peacetime applications of atomic energy. Dr. Johnson is the eleventh Westinghouse technical man to join the pool of scientific manpower working at Oak Ridge to harness atomic power for peacetime applications.