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In 1913, the year in which Niels Bohr introduced the Bohr model of the atom, Kossel went to the University of Munich as assistant to Arnold Sommerfeld, under whom he did his Habilitation. Under Sommerfeld, Munich was a theoretical center for the developing atomic theory, especially from the interpretation of atomic spectra. In 1916, Kossel put forth his theory of the ionic chemical bond (octet rule), also independently advanced in the same year by Gilbert N. Lewis. In papers published in 1914, 1916, and 1920, Kossel was the first to explain the theory of absorption limits in x-ray spectra. The edge appears at a critical frequency where absorption of the radiation largely begins with the resultant ejection of photoelectrons. In 1919, Kossel and Sommerfeld explained the similarity of the atomic spectra of neutral atoms, of atomic number Z, and singly ionized atoms, of atomic number Z + 1, which became known as the Sommerfeld-Kossel displacement law. In 1920, Kossel explained another phenomenon of x-ray spectra. Under high resolution spectroscopy, the absorption edge has structure. He attributed this to absorption of radiation by electrons which are not ejected from matter as photoelectrons, but are "kicked up" to higher, unoccupied, bound electron energy levels. In early years, this was known as "Kossel structure."
In 1932, Kossel took the appointment as ordinarius professor of theoretical physics at the Technische Hochschule Danzig. During his tenure there in 1934, he discovered x-ray lattice interference of spherical waves in crystals during the bombardment of single-crystal copper with a high-energy electron beam.
In 1945, Kossel became professor of theoretical physics and director of the Physics Institute at the University of Tübingen, where he was granted emeritus status in 1953.
Kossel died in Tübingen, and is buried, as is his father, Albrecht, in the Wald Friedhof, Heidelberg.
Walther Kossel Bemerkung zur Absorption homogener Röntgenstrahlen, Verh. D. Deutsch. Phys Ges (2) 16 898-909 (1914). Received 27 September 1914, published in issue No. 20 of 30 October 1914. As cited in Mehra, Volume 1, Part 2, 2001, p. 795.
Walther Kossel Bemerkung zur Absorption homogener Röntgenstrahlen. II, Verh. D. Deutsch. Phys Ges (2) 16 953-963 (1914). Received 23 October 1914, published in issue No. 22 of 30 November 1914. As cited in Mehra, Volume 5, Part 2, 2001, p. 919.
Walther Kossel Bemerkung zum Seriencharakter der Röntgenstrahlen, Verh. D. Deutsch. Phys Ges (2) 18 339-359 (1916). Received 31 August 1916, published in issue No. 15-18 of 30 September 1916. As cited in Mehra, Volume 5, Part 2, 2001, p. 919.
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