Irène Joliot-Curie

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

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.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Although no formal archives exist for the women whose lives are discussed except for the better known Marie Curie, Irene Joliot-Curie, and Lise Meitner (subject of the longest essay - 29 pages), the Rayner-Canhams consulted more than 55 archives in 18 countries in preparing this meticulously documented volume (63 pages of notes and references, some as recent as 1996 are provided).
The Chemistry Nobelists Name Award Field Year Ernest Rutherford Disintegration of elements and chemistry 1908 of radioactive substances Marie Curie Discovery of radium and 1911 polonium Frederick Soddy Chemistry of radioactive 1921 substances and origin and nature of isotopes Francis Aston Discovery of isotopes of 1922 many elements by mass spectroscopy Harold Urey Discovery of heavy 1934 hydrogen Frederic Joliot & Synthesis of new radio- 1935 Irene Joliot-Curie active elements George de Hevesy Isotopes as tracers in 1943 chemical research Otto Hahn Discovery of atomic 1944 fission Glenn Seaborg & Discoveries of 1951 Edwin McMillan transuranium elements Willard Libby Development of radiocarbon dating 1960