Updated 26-XII-2018

Dr. Carl Kenty

This article was written by fellow lamp engineer and collector Edward J. Covington, and originally appeared on his own website of biographical sketches of persons involved in the lamp industry. Following his passing in February 2017, and with kind permission of his family, Ed's words have been preserved here in the hope of maintaining access to his writings for the benefit of subsequent generations.

Dr. Carl Kenty at work6

Advances in lamp design can be made by trial and error experiment or through the application of fundamental knowledge of the physics, chemistry or metallurgy. Edison's first successful carbon filament, made from bamboo, was arrived at through trial and error. Other advances, such as the high output fluorescent lamp, were achieved in the main through understanding of physical and chemical processes going on within the lamp. Waymouth pointed out that a new lamp product resulted from such understanding4.

Carl Eric Kenty (ca 1903 - June 10, 1967) was born in Nova Scotia, graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree from Dalhousie University in Halifax, and then earned a Master of Science degree in 1925 from the same University. Kenty then received his doctorate degree in Physics from Princeton University in 1929. Carl Kenty joined the General Electric Company in 1929 at the Vapor Lamp Plant in Hoboken, New Jersey. That had been formed in 1902 by the Cooper-Hewitt Electric Company to manufacture the mercury-vapor arc lamp. In 1919 the General Electric Company purchased the Company and operated it as a subsidiary, the name later being changed to the General Electric Vapor Lamp Company. In 1940 Kenty moved to Cleveland, to work at Nela Park.

An important contribution to lamp understanding by Kenty appears to be the accurate description he made of the positive column in the fluorescent lamp. This work received recognition by Dr. John F. Waymouth3:

"In a 'landmark' paper appearing in 1950, Carl Kenty published an analysis of the positive column of a 40-W fluorescent lamp in which he combined the values of electron temperature and density measured by Easley, the densities of the 3P states he determined by absorption, and the transition rates calculated from those excitation cross sections that were known or could be guessed, to get a self-consistent picture of the radiation from the discharge at a single current, tube size, fill pressure, and mercury vapor pressure.

"I shall not discuss here in detail the calculations of Kenty but rather acknowledge his contribution of collecting a reasonably accurate set of cross sections for excitation of the 3P states and of identifying the important aspects of the problem and those that can be safely neglected."

In his book, Electric Discharge Lamps, Waymouth then continues to show the details of Kenty's work. Without a doubt, man makes advances in the understanding of physical and chemical phenomena by utilizing the research of others. Waymouth has advanced our understanding even further.

Carl Kenty's wife was Eula (22 Mar 1897 - May 1987) and they had a daughter. Carl passed away in 1967 at the age of 64.

  1. "The Recombination of Argon Ions and Electrons", Phys Rev 32, pp.624-635 (1928)
  2. "Surface Layers on Tungsten and the Activation of Nitrogen by Electron Impact", Phys Rev 32, pp.799-811 (1928)
    (with L. A. Turner)
  3. "Photoelectric and Metastable Atom Emission of Electrons from Surfaces", Phys Rev 38, pp.377-378 (1931)
  4. "Photoelectric Efficiencies in the Extreme Ultraviolet", Phys Rev 38, pp.2079-2080 (1931)
  5. "Line Broadening and the Imprisonment of Resonance Radiation", Phys Rev 40, pp.633-634 (1932)
  6. "On Radiation Diffusion and the Rapidity of Escape of Resonance Radiation from a Gas", Phys Rev 42 pp.823-842 (1932)
  7. "Photoelectric and Metastable Atom Emission of Electrons from Surfaces in the Rare Gases", Phys Rev 43 pp.181-193 (1933)
  8. "Photoelectric Yields in the Extreme Ultraviolet", Phys Rev 44 pp.891-897 (1933)
  9. "A New Band System in the Green Excited in a Mixture of Xenon and Oxygen and the Energy of Dissociation of CO",
    Phys Rev 69 pp 36-37 (1946) (with J. O. Aicher, E. B. Noel, A. Poritsky and V. Paolino)
  10. "X-Ray Determination of Hg Arc Temperature", Phys Rev 78 pp.625-626 (1950) (with W. J. Karash)
  11. "The Temperature of the Mercury Arc", Phys Rev 78 pp.626-627 (1950)
  12. "Role of Metastable (3P2) Hg Atoms in Low Current Discharges in Hg Rare Gas Mixtures", Phys Rev 80 pp.95-96 (1950)
  13. "A New Form of Discharge in Gas Mixtures: The Flashing Discharge", Phys Rev 80 p.90 (1950)
  14. "Production of 2537 Radiation and the Role of Metastable Atoms in an Argon-Mercury Discharge", J Appl Phys 21 pp.1309-1318 (1950)
  15. "Gas Temperatures and Elastic Losses in Low Pressure Mercury-Argon Discharges", J Appl Phys 22 pp.1006-1011 (1951)
    (with M. A. Easley and B. T. Barnes)
  16. "Enhancement of the Green Continuum of Hg by a Rare Gas", Phys Rev89 pp.180-181 (1953) (with D. A. Larson)
  17. "Active Nitrogen in the Rare Gases and Its Excitation of Metal Vapors", J Chem Phys 23 pp.1555-1556 (1955)
  18. "Evidence for a Long-Lived Metastable State of N2 at About 8 ev", J Chem Phys 35 pp.2267-2268 (1961)
  19. "Volume Recombination, Constriction, and Volt-Ampere Characteristics of the Positive Column", Phys Rev 126pp.1235-1238 (1962)
  20. "New Evidence for the Importance of N2(3Δu) in Discharge and Afterglow in N2 Plus a Rare Gas", J Chem Phys 41p.3996 (1964)
  21. "The Thallium Streamer Discharge: A New Form of Discharge", Proceedings of the Seventh International Conference on Phenomena in Ionized Gases, 1 (Beograd) (1966) pp.818-822.

  1. US 1,897,482 - Self-Starting Low Voltage Gaseous Electric Discharge Device and Method of Operating Same - 1933/02/14
  2. US 1,984,483 - Electric Gaseous Discharge Device - 1934/12/18
  3. US 2,027,383 - Electric Discharge Device - 1936/01/14
  4. US 2,027,384 - Apparatus for Controlled Electric Discharge Devices - 1936/01/14
  5. US 2,030,376 - Gaseous Electric Discharge Device - 1936/02/11
  6. US 2,654,051 - Method of Measuring Molecular Impurities in Rare Gases - 1953/09/29
  7. US 2,671,184 - Flashing Discharge Device - 1954/03/02
  8. US 2,730,424 - Method and Apparatus for Making High Pressure Hg Vapor Lamps - 1956/01/10 - with Daniel A. Larson
  9. US 2,730,645 - Metallic Flame Radiation - 1956/01/10
  10. US 2,961,564 - Pulsating Electric Discharge - 1960/11/22

References & Bibliography
  1. "Death Notice", The Plain Dealer, Jun 13 1967, p.40.
  2. "Dr. Carl Kenty Dies at 64; GE Physicist", The Plain Dealer, Jun 13 1967, p.42.
  3. "Electric Discharge Lamps", John F. Waymouth, The M.I.T. Press, Cambridge, MA, 1971.
  4. "Allis in Wonderland - Physics for Profit and Fun", John F. Wamouth, Physics Today, Vol.54 No.2, Jun 2000, pp.38-42.
  5. The Electric-Lamp Industry - Technological Change and Economic Development from 1800 to 1947", Arthur A. Bright, Jr., The MacMillan Company, New York, 1949.
  6. "A Picture Night for Camera Clubs", including photograph of Dr. Kenty on p.61, Edward B. Noel, Popular Photography Nov 1948, p.60-61, 143-145.