Antoine Henri Becquerel
Born: 15 December 1852, Paris, France
Died: 25 August 1908, France
Affiliation at the time of the award: École Polytechnique, Paris, France
Prize motivation: "in recognition of the extraordinary services he has rendered by his discovery of spontaneous radioactivity"
Field: nuclear physics
Prize share: 1/2
In 1897 when Henri Becquerel researched the newly discovered X-rays it led to studies of how uranium salts are influenced by light. By accident, he discovered that the uranium salts spontaneously emitted a penetrating radiation that could be registered on a photographic plate. Further studies made it clear that this radiation was something new - not the same type as X-rays. He had discovered a new phenomenon - radioactivity.