The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1944
Born: 8 March 1879, Frankfurt-on-the-Main, Germany
Died: 28 July 1968, Göttingen, West Germany (now Germany)
Affiliation at the time of the award: Kaiser-Wilhelm-Institut (now Max-Planck Institut) für Chemie, Berlin-Dahlem, Germany
Prize motivation: "for his discovery of the fission of heavy nuclei."
Otto Hahn received his Nobel Prize one year later, in 1945.
Prize share: 1/1
The discovery of the neutron in 1932 provided a powerful new tool for investigating atoms. When Otto Hahn and Fritz Strassman irradiated uranium with neutrons in 1939, they created barium, which was far too light an element to be a decay product of uranium. Otto Hahn's long-time colleague, Lise Meitner, and her nephew, Otto Frisch, tackled the problem from a theoretical standpoint and proved that the uranium nucleus had been split. The phenomenon, later called "fission", proved important in developing nuclear weapons and energy.
Their work and discoveries range from cancer therapy and laser physics to developing proteins that can solve humankind’s chemical problems. The work of the 2018 Nobel Laureates also included combating war crimes, as well as integrating innovation and climate with economic growth. Find out more.