Born: 1 August 1924, Dabrovica, Poland
Died: 29 September 2010, Paris, France
Affiliation at the time of the award: École Supérieure de Physique et Chimie, Paris, France, CERN, Geneva, Switzerland
Prize motivation: "for his invention and development of particle detectors, in particular the multiwire proportional chamber"
Prize share: 1/1
When onrushing particles collide and form showers of new particles, they offer a key to understanding the smallest components of matter. In 1968 Georges Charpak developed the multiwire proportional chamber, which represented a more effective way of detecting particles. The multiwire chamber contains many parallel metal wires surrounded by a gas. Between the chamber's walls and the threads, an electrical charge is introduced. When particles enter, electrons in the gas are liberated in cascading fashion. Currents are generated in the wires and are registered and processed using computers.