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Irène et Frédéric Joliot-Curie

1935 ; A Nobel Prize
Portrait d'Irène et de Frédéric Joliot-Curie à l'époque de leur Prix Nobel en 1935.
Musée Curie

The Nobel Prize was awarded to Irene and Frederic Jolliot-Curie in 1935 for their discovery of "artificial radioactivity".

This major discovery showed that radioactivity is a general property of matter.

It has given mankind the ability to create unlimited radioactive isotopes and allowed to make substantial progress in all fields of knowledge.

Irene is Marie and Pierre Curie daughter (1897-1956), wonderfully prepared to research through her mother, and an excellent chemist.

After graduating from the School of Physics and Chemistry, Frederic Joliot (1900-1958) is sent by his master, Paul Langevin, to Marie Curie and become his assistant at the Radium Institute in Paris. He is brilliant and has an exceptional imagination that allows him, combining rigor and imagination to "believe possible, even the implausible."

They became married and as soon they became involved into the study of atomic nuclei. Dazzling saga for this husband and wife duet. Together they will publish, at an exceptional rate, results they get by bombarding different nuclei with a source of alpha radiation. The notes to the Comptes Rendus of the Academy of Sciences will sometimes succeed, even often, at intervals of eight days (see note).

Irene and Frederic Joliot-Curie had foreseen the many immediate applications of artificial radioactivity. Frederic Joliot, had even foreseen, three years before the discovery of nuclear fission, its huge energy potential, the opportunities it offers and its dangers .

In his Nobel speech on December 1935 in Stockholm, he concludes : " ... we are entitled to think that researchers building or breaking down the elements at will will perform explosive transmutations, real chemical reactions in chains. If such transmutations are able to propagate in matter, we can imagine the huge release of energy which will take place ..."

Frédéric Joliot was the first High Commissioner for Atomic Energy.

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