Born: 19 March 1900, Paris, France
Died: 14 August 1958, Paris, France
Affiliation at the time of the award: Institut du Radium, Paris, France
Prize motivation: "in recognition of their synthesis of new radioactive elements"
Field: nuclear chemistry
Prize share: 1/2
Radiation from radioactive substances also became an important tool in investigating atoms. When Frédéric Joliot and Irène Joliot-Curie bombarded a thin piece of aluminum with alpha particles (helium atom nuclei) in 1934, a new kind of radiation was discovered that left traces inside an apparatus known as a cloud chamber. The pair discovered that the radiation from the aluminum continued even after the source of radiation was removed. This was because aluminum atoms had been converted into a radioactive isotope of phosphorus. That meant that, for the first time in history, a radioactive element had been created artificially.