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Willoughby Smith


In 1873, Smith designed a module for persistently testing an underwater cable as it was being laid. For doing so, he required a semi-conducting element with a high withstand ability and selected selenium rods to accomplish the test.

The selenium found to perform the task flawlessly, except in actual use, the tool showed irrelevant results. Upon evaluation, it was found that the conductivity of the selenium rods reduced to a great extent when exposed to strong light.

Smith specified the “Effect of Light on Selenium during the passage of an Electric Current” in an article that was published in Nature in 1873 of 20th February issue.

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