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Clarence Melvin Zener Collection

Identifier: 1994-0001

Scope and Content Note

This collection contains the papers of Clarence Melvin Zener. The bulk of this collection contains field notebooks, reprints, and abstracts developed for research purposes. This collection also contains twelve approved United States Patent applications. Several of these applications are reprints. There are several works published by Zener through a collective or independent effort in this collection. Parts of this collection contain Zener's research information developing the FOAM OTEC SYSTEM. A great amount of this collection contains physic based equations. A working knowledge of physics would be helpful in understanding the collection.


  • 1876-1996





Clarence Melvin Zener (b. Indianapolis, Indiana 1905; d. Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania 1993) was a Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) physics professor from 1968 until his death on July 2, 1993.

Zener received his A.B. from Stanford University and his Ph.D in physics from Harvard University in 1929. Zener's research enabled him to travel to Germany on the Sheldon Traveling Fellowship (1929-30). The National Research Council awarded Dr. Zener a fellowship to further his research at Princeton University from 1930-32.

Before Zener came to teach at CMU, he instructed at Washington University (1935-37), City College, New York (1937-40), Washington Sate College (1940-42), University of Chicago (1945-51), and Texas A and M University (1966-68) where he served as the Dean of the College of Science. Clarence Zener also served as the associate director and later the director of Westinghouse Electric Corporation Research Labs over a fourteen year period (1951-65).

Zener received several awards which recognized his research in physics. In 1957 he received the Bingham Award. In 1959 he received the Wetherill Medallion of the Franklin Institution. The Albert Souvenur Achievement Award was given to Zener on two different occasions. He received a Social medal in 1965 and a gold medal in 1974. In 1982 Zener received the Von Hippel Award.

Zener held memberships in the National Academy of Science and the Fellow American Physics Society.

Zener was instrumental in the creation and development of scientific studies utilizing his knowledge of physics. He is credited with the development of the Zener Diode, which was a voltage regulator developed in the 1950's. Zener is also noted as a pioneer in the concept of ocean thermal energy conversion. His final research project was based upon the Theoretical Physics and Engineering Power from the Ocean's Thermocline.


2.0 Linear feet (2 boxes)




Clarence Melvin Zener was a recognized physics professor at Carngie Mellon University from 1968 until his death in 1993. The bulk of this collection contains field notebooks, reprints, and abstracts developed for research purposes.

Physical Location

Shelf 142


This collection was a gift from the estate of Clarence Zener to the Carnegie Mellon University Archives in 1994.



Physical Description

Two boxes (Boxes 1-2); 2 linear feet


The Zener Collection was processed by Lela J. Sewell, November 1994. Finding Aid reformatted for online presentation by Jennie Benford, 2005.
Clarence Melvin Zener Collection 1876-1996 1994.01
July 30, 2007
Language of description
Script of description
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Repository Details

Part of the Carnegie Mellon University Archives Repository

4909 Frew St
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