Pierre Curie

  • Year:

    1909

  • Subject:

    Chemistry

  • Award:

    Cresson

  • Citation:

    For the discovery of radium (with Marie Curie).

Pierre Curie was born in Paris in 1859. He was educated at home before entering the Sorbonne. He gained his Licenciateship in Physics in 1878 and continued as a demonstrator in the physics laboratory until 1882 when he was placed in charge of all practical work in the Physics and Industrial Chemistry Schools. In 1895, he obtained his Doctor of Science degree and was appointed Professor of Physics. He was promoted to Professor in the Faculty of Sciences in 1900, and in 1904 he became Titular Professor.

In his early studies on crystallography, together with his brother Jacques, Curie discovered piezoelectric effects. This means that a difference in electrical potential is seen when mechanical stresses are applied on certain crystals, including quartz. (Such crystals are now used in microphones, electronic apparatus, and clocks.) Later, he advanced theories of symmetry with regard to certain physical phenomena and turned his attention to magnetism. He showed that the magnetic properties of a given substance change at a certain temperature, which is now known as the Curie point.

Together with Marie, they discovered a new element, polonium (named for Marie's home country of Poland), followed closely by the discovery of radium. Their work in this era formed the basis for much of the subsequent research in nuclear physics and chemistry.

In 1903, the Curies shared with Becquerel the Nobel Prize for Physics for the discovery of radioactivity.

Information as of 1909