X rays were discovered in 1895 by W. C. Roentgen, who called them X rays because their nature was at first unknown; they are sometimes also called Roentgen, or Röntgen, rays. X-ray line spectra were used by H. G. J. Moseley in his important work on atomic numbers (1913) and also provided further confirmation of the quantum theory of atomic structure. Also important historically is the discovery of X-ray diffraction by Max von Laue (1912) and its subsequent application by W. H. and W. L. Bragg to the study of crystal structure.
The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.