Journal of Phase Equilibria

, 19:11 | Cite as

Sir William Chandler Roberts-Austen — His role in the development of binary diagrams and modern physical metallurgy

  • F. X. Kayser
  • J. W. Patterson
Historical Paper


This biographical sketch of Sir William Chandler Roberts-Austen was motivated by the centennial anniversary of his famous report of 1897. In the discussion session, Roberts-Austen presented his so-called “first” T-x diagram for the Fe-C system. Though not itself an equilibrium phase diagram, it became one in 1899 when H.W.B. Roozeboom modified an updated (“second”) version in accordance with the phase rule of J.W. Gibbs. In 1875 Sir William pioneered the use of T****-x diagrams for alloy systems, even before reliable thermocouples were available. Eventually, after Chatelier’s Pt, Pt-10% Rh thermocouple proved reliable for high temperature work, Roberts-Austen incorporated it in his own revolutionary invention: a mechanical autographic temperature recorder. Electronic versions are still used in all modern industrial plants and research labs.


Alloy Phase Diagram Historical Paper Equilibrium Phase Diagram Phase Rule High Temperature Work 
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Copyright information

© ASM International 1998

Authors and Affiliations

  • F. X. Kayser
    • 1
  • J. W. Patterson
    • 1
  1. 1.Department of Materials Science and EngineeringIowa State UniversityAmes

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