Cecil Frank Powell
The Nobel Prize in Physics 1950
Born: 5 December 1903, Tonbridge, United Kingdom
Died: 9 August 1969, Italy
Affiliation at the time of the award: Bristol University, Bristol, United Kingdom
Prize motivation: "for his development of the photographic method of studying nuclear processes and his discoveries regarding mesons made with this method."
Prize share: 1/1
Charged particles moving through photographic emulsions leave tracks that can be examined in the images developed afterward. Cecil Powell made improvements to this technique in order to study radiation and nuclear reactions. In 1947 he discovered that incident cosmic ray particles could react with atomic nuclei in the emulsion, creating other, short-lived particles. These particles turned out to be pi-mesons, the particles proposed by Hideki Yukawa as mediating the strong force binding protons and neutrons in nuclei.
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.