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Photodermatol Photoimmunol Photomed. 2016 Mar;32(2):60-5. doi: 10.1111/phpp.12235. Epub 2016 Jan 29.

Robert Williams Wood: pioneer of invisible light.

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Department of Physics, University of Cambridge, Cambridge, UK.
Department of Dermatology, Mayo Clinic, Scottsdale, AZ, USA.


The Wood's lamp aids in the diagnosis of multiple infectious, inflammatory and neoplastic dermatologic conditions. Although the Wood's lamp has many applications, which have improved both the diagnosis and management of disease, the man credited for its invention is relatively unknown in medicine. Robert Williams Wood, a prominent physicist of the early 20th century, is credited for the invention of the Wood's lamp. Wood was the father of infrared and ultraviolet photography and made significant contributions to other areas in optics and spectroscopy. Wood's work encompassed the formative years of American Physics; he published over 200 original papers over his lifetime. A few years after the invention of the Wood's lamp for ultraviolet photography, physicians in Europe adopted the Wood's lamp for dermatologic applications. Wood's lamp remains popular in clinics globally, given its ease of use and ability to improve diagnostic precision.


Medical Diagnosis; Ultraviolet Light; Wood's Lamp

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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