Joliot-Curie, Irène

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Joliot-Curie, Irène


Born Sept. 12, 1897, in Paris; died there Mar. 17, 1956. French physicist. Progressive public figure; daughter of Pierre Curie and Marie Sklodowska-Curie.

Upon graduating from the University of Paris in 1920, Joliot-Curie began working in the laboratory of Marie Sklodowska-Curie. In 1925 she defended her doctoral dissertation. After her mother’s death in 1934, she took over Marie Sklodowska-Curie’s chair at the University of Paris. In 1936 she worked for the French government as an undersecretary for scientific research. During the years of fascist occupation (1940–44) she actively participated in the struggle of the French people against the fascist invaders.

Joliot-Curie’s principal scientific researches—the discovery of artificial radioactivity and the discovery and investigation of the processes of the annihilation and creation of pairs—were carried out in collaboration with her husband, Jean Frédéric Joliot-Curie. In 1939, together with the Yugo-slav physicist P. Savic, she established that one of the products obtained by irradiating uranium with neutrons is lanthanum—an element with an atomic number of 57—and not a transuranium element as formerly believed. This work greatly contributed to the discovery of nuclear fission.

Beginning in 1946, Joliot-Curie conducted important work in the French Atomic Energy Commission. In 1950 both she and her husband were excluded by the French government from the commission for their active participation in the World Peace Movement. Irene Joliot-Curie was a member of the World Peace Council. She took part in the International Congress of Women (1945) and in the First (1949) and Second (1950) World Congresses of the Peace Movement.

She was a recipient of a Nobel Prize in 1935, with J. F. Joliot-Curie. She was also a corresponding member of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR (1947).


“Recherches sur les rayons α du polonium: Oscillations de parcours, vitesse d’émission, pouvoir ionisant.” Annales de Physique, 1925, vol. 3.


Shaskol’skaia, M. P. “Iren Zholio-Kiuri.” Uspeki fizicheskikh nauk, 1956, vol. 59, issue 4.
“Iren Zholio-Kiuri” (obituary). In J. F. Joliot-Curie, Izbrannye trudy. Moscow, 1957.