Nobel Prizes and Laureates

The Nobel Prize in Physics 1938
Enrico Fermi

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Enrico Fermi - Facts

Enrico Fermi

Enrico Fermi

Born: 29 September 1901, Rome, Italy

Died: 28 November 1954, Chicago, IL, USA

Affiliation at the time of the award: Rome University, Rome, Italy

Prize motivation: "for his demonstrations of the existence of new radioactive elements produced by neutron irradiation, and for his related discovery of nuclear reactions brought about by slow neutrons"

Field: nuclear physics

Prize share: 1/1

Detected Unknown Radioactive Isotopes

The neutron, discovered in 1932, turned out to be a powerful probe for studying the atom. When Enrico Fermi irradiated heavy atoms with neutrons, these were captured by the nuclei. New isotopes, often radioactive, were formed. In 1934 he and co-workers discovered that if the neutrons were slowed down, by e.g. paraffin shielding, the interaction rate with nuclei was increased, leading to discoveries of many hitherto unknown radioactive isotopes.

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