Creator of the first mercury-vapor lamp, a brighter and more durable light source, which was in popular use for decades after. He also developed and tested an early hydrofoil and the mercury arc rectifier, the first rectifier.
Finding that an electric current passed through a container of gas can create light, he joined other scientists of the mid-19th century in attempting to develop it into a practical device.
Finding that his mercury-gas lamps gave off an unpleasing blue light, he decided to find uses for it outside the home; unfortunately for him, a better version appeared just two years after.
He was born in New York City.
Centuries before his invention, scientists like Ami Argand were already working on refining lamps.