GE Research

From Thomas Edison’s first commercially viable light bulb to the first x-ray machines, GE researchers have a history of redefining what’s possible. GE was there for the first walk on the moon; we created the first television broadcast, the first man-made diamond and the first jet engine.

But we didn’t stop there. Today, we’re building upon the past to drive innovation for the future. At GE Research, we have a relentless passion to find solutions for tomorrow’s problems, developing groundbreaking technologies that improve people’s lives and change the world. Building, powering, moving, curing. This is where we turn research into reality. This is GE Research.

Timeline of Innovation

1879

Carbon Filament Incandescent Lamp

Edison invents the first commercially practical incandescent lamp.

1882

Central Power Station

The Edison Electric Illuminating Company turns electricity into a commodity, constructing the first central power station in New York City.

1895

World’s Largest Electric Locomotives

GE puts electricity to work on a large scale in 96-ton electric locomotives.

1896

X-Ray Machine

A rich tradition of GE breakthroughs in medical imaging begins with the demonstration of stereoscopic Roentgen pictures.

1906

The First Voice Radio Broadcast

The world’s first voice radio broadcast is made possible by Ernst Frederick Werner Alexanderson’s high-frequency alternator. The pictured alternator, one of several designed by Alexanderson, was used to send transatlantic radio-telegraph messages from Long Island, New York.

1908

The Ductile Tungsten Filament

Developed by William D. Coolidge, this material is still used in light bulbs today. During a visit to the GE Research Laboratory in 1914, Thomas A. Edison (left) met with Coolidge, who is shown explaining how tungsten is made ductile employing the apparatus in the foreground.

1910

The First Hotpoint Range

GE improves life in the kitchen with the first electric range.

1912

The Vacuum Tube

Drs. Irving Langmuir (left) and Willis R. Whitney examine an early model of GE’s high-vacuum pliotron tube. Improvements in vacuum tube design help make possible modern electronics and radio broadcasting.

1914

Steinmetz Electric Car

Charles Steinmetz develops an electric vehicle, which is able to reach a top speed of 40 miles per hour, powered by 14 six-volt batteries.

1920

Portable X-Ray Machine

GE develops a new X-ray machine suitable for dental and portable use.

1927

GE Brings Television into the Home

The first home television reception takes place in Schenectady, NY with a signal from GE’s WGY.

1932

A Nobel First: Irving Langmuir

Irving Langmuir becomes the first US industrial scientist to win the Nobel Prize, received for his research in the field of surface chemistry.

1938

The Fluorescent Lamp

GE invents the first practical low-pressure discharge lamp to provide white light.

1939

Invisible Glass

Katharine B. Blodgett invents non-reflecting, “invisible” glass, using a technique for transferring molecular films from liquid to glass surfaces. The glass becomes the prototype for coatings used today on virtually all camera lenses and optical devices, including prescription eyeglasses. Here, she is pictured working in her room at the GE Research Laboratory.

1940

Silicones

GE invents a new silicones chemistry, marking the start of the silicones business. Eugene G. Rochow is pictured with an apparatus used to produce the first basic silicones.

1941

Entering the Jet Age

GE builds the first U.S. jet engine, the I-A, which is used the next year to power America’s first successful jet aircraft for military use, the Bell XP-59 Airacomet.

1949

The J47

GE introduces what will become the world’s most-produced jet engine in history, the J47.

1953

Lexan

Daniel W. Fox makes discoveries that lead to the development of a transparent plastic of unsurpassed impact resistance.

1955

Making Diamonds

GE Research Laboratory announces the invention of the first reproducible process for making industrial-use diamonds. One of the first batches of diamonds is shown in this photomicrograph.

1957

Nuclear Power

Continuing to pioneer in the field of energy generation, GE opens the world’s first licensed nuclear power plant.

1962

Laser Light

The laser light is invented, making possible many of today’s most popular technologies such as DVD players.

1969

A Step on the Moon

GE supplies a variety of technologies for the first landing on the moon, including engineering support, test facilities, and the silicone for Neil Armstrong’s boots.

1971

Powering Air Force One

GE moves into the civil market for high-bypass turbofan engines, making the CF6 the most popular engine family for wide-body aircraft, including Air Force One.

1983

MRI

GE scientists develop the Signa Magnetic Resonance Imaging System, which produces images of “soft” tissues difficult to image by X-ray methods.

1992

The Mars Observer

GE builds the Mars Observer for NASA, which will study Martian geology and climate while mapping the planet’s surface.

1998

LightspeedTM CT Scanner

This scanner is the first to capture multiple images simultaneously and is six times faster than traditional single-slice scanners.

1999

GE90-115B

With more than 115,000 lbs. of thrust, the GE90-115B becomes the world’s most powerful commercial jet engine.

2002

Wind Power

GE continues its focus on sustainable energy, entering the wind power business.

2003

Evolution Locomotive

GE introduces the new fuel-efficient Evolution Series locomotives.

2004

UltraScanTM Duo

GE launches the UltraScanTM Duo, the first liquid pipeline inspection tool to utilize Phased Array Ultrasound Technology.

2007

World’s First 24-Cylinder Gas Engine

The J624 Jenbacher high-speed gas engine technology produces more energy more efficiently, providing clean on-site power generation.

2009

Vscan

Vscan, a handheld, pocket-sized ultrasound technology, helps doctors deliver expanded care to more people, including in rural regions.

2010

The WattStation

The WattStation charges electric vehicles at home or on the road, with an upgradable design that allows customers to stay current with the latest technology.

2010

Leap Engine

The next-generation jet engine with ceramic components and 3-D printed parts takes its first flight. The engine’s unique design and materials make it 15 percent more fuel efficient than comparable engines. It is also lighter, quieter, produces fewer emissions and is projected to save an airline as much as $1.6 million in fuel costs per plane per year.

2013

Silicon Carbide

GE is developing the next evolution of power devices with Silicon Carbide technology. These devices operate at higher frequencies and temperatures and set new standards in power efficiency.

2015

HA Gas Turbine

The world’s largest and most efficient heavy-duty gas turbine, GE’s HA, is developed using Fastworks and the GE Store of technology. The turbine offers industry-leading operational flexibility and builds upon the legacy of jet engine technology pioneered at the GRC during the early 20th century.

2015

Digital Twin

GE combines its deep base of industrial knowledge with software to create digital models of physical assets and processes to deliver business outcomes for customers.

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