R.W. James (1891-1964)

R.W. (Reginald William) James (1891-1964), a pioneer X-ray crystallographer of world-wide reputation, was Professor of Physics at the University of Cape Town from 1937 to 1956. Posthumously, he achieved a distinction which has come to few scientists anywhere: two of his ex-students from UCT won Nobel Prizes.

The building at UCT housing the Departments of Physics, Astronomy and Oceanography is named after him.


by Sir Lawrence Bragg: "Reginald William James 1891-1964", Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society, 11, 115, Nov. 1965.

by Robin Cherry, UCT Physics

by John Juritz, UCT Physics

Andy Buffler, UCT Physics: Slides from colloquium given on 18 March 2022.

Also see: Howard Phillips, "The University of Cape Town 1918-1948. The Formative Years", U.C.T. in association with the U.C.T. Press, 1993. pp. 343-347.

and  RW James: 'Personal reminiscences'  (International Union of Crystallography)



RW James and Sir Lawrence Bragg outside the old Physics Building at UCT, 1952



1921. (With W. L. BRAGG & C. H. BOSANQUET.) The distribution of electrons around the nucleus  in the sodium and chlorine atoms. Z. Phys. 8, 77; Phil. Mag. 44, 433 (1922).

1921. (With W. L. BRAGG & C. H. BOSANQUET.) The intensity of reflections of X-rays by rock-salt. I, Phil Mag. 41, 309; II, Phil. Mag. 42, 1.

1921. (With W. L. BRAGG & C. H. BOSANQUET) Uber die Strenung der Rantgenstrahlen durch die Atume eines Kristalles. Z. Phys. 8, 77.

1921. The Crystalline Structure of Bismuth.  Phil. Mag. 42, 193.

1924. Some Problems Relating to Antarctic Sea-Ice.  Mem. & Proc. Manchester Literary & Philosphical Soc. 68, 81.

1925. (With W.A. WOOD).  The Crystal Structure of Barytes, Celestine and Anglesite.  Proc. Roy. Soc. A, 109, 598.

1925. (With W.A. WOOD).  The Structure of Barium Sulphate.  Mem & Proc. Manchester Literary & Phil. Soc. 69, 1.

1925. The influence of temperature on the intensity of reflection of X-rays from rock-salt. Phil. Mag. 49, 585.

1926. (With J. T. RANDALL.) The scattering powers of calcium and fluorine for X-rays. Phil. Mag. 1, 1202.

1926. (With W. L. BRAGG & C. G. DARWIN.) The intensity of reflection of X-rays by crystals. Phil. Mag. 1, 897.

1926-1927. The intensity of reflection of X-rays by crystals at low temperatures. Mem & Proc. Manchester Literary & Phil. Soc 71, 7.

1927. (With E. M. FIRTH.) An X-ray study of the heat motions of the atoms in a rock-salt crystal. Proc. Roy. Soc. A, 117. 62.

1927. (With I. WALLER.) On the temperature factors of X-ray reflection for sodium and chlorine in the rock-salt crystal. Proc. Roy. Soc. A, 117, 214.

1927. (With J. WEST & A.J. BRADLEY.)  Crystallography.  Annual Reports of the Chem. Soc. 24, 273.

1928. (With G. W. BRINDLEY.) A quantitative study of the reflexion of X-rays by sylvine. Proc. Roy. Soc. A, 121, 155.

1928. (With I. WALLER & D. R. HARTREE.) An investigation into the existence of zero-point energy in the rock-salt lattice by an X-ray diffraction method. Proc. Roy. Soc. A, 118, 334.

1928. (With W. L. BRAGG, J.D. BERNAL & A.J. BRADLEY.) Crystallography. Ann. Reports of the Chem. Soc. 25, 275.

1929. (With G. W. BRlNDLEY & R. G. WOOD.) A quantitative study of the reflection of X-rays from crystals of aluminium. Proc. Roy. Soc. A, 125, 401.

1931. (With G. W. BRINDLEY.) Some numerical calculations of atomic scattering factors. Phil. Mag. 12, 81; Z. Phys. 78, 470.

1932. (Theoretical scattering curves). Phys. Z. 33, 737. Uber den EubfkyB der Tenoeratyr ayf due Streyyrg der (Rontgen strahler durch Gasmolekule).

1933. Die absolute Bestimmung der Atomformfaktoren durch Versuche mit Kristallen. Ergebn, Tech. Itmtgenkunde, 3, 32.

1934. The Intensities of X-ray Spectra and the Imperfections of Crystals.  Z. Kryst. 89, 295.

1935. (With G. KING & H. HORROCKs.) The crystal structure of para-dinitrobenzene, Proc. Roy. Soc. A, 153, 225.

1936. The New Outlook on Physics.  Mem & Proc. Manchester Lit. & Phil. Soc. 80, 7.

1947. (With D. H. SAUNDER.) Some apparent periodic errors in the crystal lattice of the molecular complexes of 4 ; 4' -dinitrodiphenyl with 4-iodo and 4 bromodiphenyl Proc. Roy. Soc. A, 190, 518.

1948. False detail in 3-dimensional fourier transformations of crystal structure. Acta Cryst. 1, 132.