RWTH Institute Named Historical Site


The European Physical Society identifies RWTH’s Institute for High Voltage Technology as a historically significant site for science.


RWTH’s Institute for High Voltage Technology, formerly Rogowski Institute, on Schinkelstraße in Aachen, has now received the Historical Site distinction by the European Physical Society, EPS for short. The EPS program honors different places in Europe where milestones in research on physics have been reached. A plaque indicating this distinction will soon be attached to the building’s facade.

The university building, which was built between 1925 and 1929, receives the distinction for the research by Rolf Wideröe. The scientist developed the first high-frequency accelerator there in 1927 as part of his doctoral thesis under the supervision of Professor Walter Rogowski. Wideröe, born in Oslo in 1902, is regarded as the father of modern particle accelerators. Almost every high-energy accelerator manufactured for research or medical applications today is based on his concepts.

Contrary to the then-common practice of using static high-voltage devices to accelerate particle beams, the Norwegian investigated the use of alternating voltages. Unlike static devices, these allow particles to be accelerated repeatedly at the same voltage and thus result in significantly higher energies. Wideröe was the first to successfully prove acceleration by means of several alternating voltages arranged one behind each other in a straight line.

Besides this so-called linear particle accelerator, he also developed the principle of the betatron, a circular accelerator. The cyclotron, which is still one of the most important types of accelerator today, is based on this betatron. The most important application of this technology beyond basic research is in medicine, where it is used to generate radioactive tracers for positron emission tomography, thyroid scintigraphy, and other imaging methods as well as for radiation therapy for cancer tumors.

Source: Press and Communications