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Nobel Prizes in Nuclear Science

Many Nobel Prizes have been awarded for nuclear research and instrumentation. The field has spun off: particle physics, nuclear astrophysics, nuclear power reactors, nuclear medicine, and nuclear weapons. Understanding how the nucleus works and applying that knowledge to technology has been one of the most significant accomplishments of twentieth century scientific research. Each prize was awarded for physics unless otherwise noted.

Name(s) Discovery Year
Henri Becquerel, Pierre Curie, and Marie Curie Discovered spontaneous radioactivity 1903
Ernest Rutherford Work on the disintegration of the elements and chemistry of radioactive elements 1908 (chem)
Marie Curie Discovery of radium and polonium 1911 (chem)
Frederick Soddy Work on chemistry of radioactive substances including the origin and nature of radioactive isotopes 1921 (chem)
Francis Aston Discovery of isotopes in many non-radioactive elements, also enunciated the whole-number rule of atomic masses 1922 (chem)
Charles Wilson development of the cloud chamber for detecting charged particles 1927
Harold Urey discovery of heavy hydrogen (deuterium) 1934 (chem)
Frederic Joliot and Irene Joliot-Curie synthesis of several new radioactive elements 1935 (chem)
James Chadwick discovery of the neutron 1935
Carl David Anderson discovery of the positron 1936
Enrico Fermi new radioactive elements produced by neutron irradiation 1938
Ernest Lawrence invented the cyclotron 1939
George De Hevesy Use of isotopes as tracers in the study of chemical processes 1943


Otto Hahn discovered fission of massive nuclei 1944 (chem)
Patrick Blackett improved cloud chamber and discoveries in nuclear physics and cosmic rays 1948
Hideki Yukawa predicted the existence of mesons as the basis of the nuclear force 1949
Cecil Powell Developed the photographic method of studying nuclear processes 1950
Edwin McMillan and Glenn Seaborg Discoveries in the chemistries of the transuranium elements 1951 (chem)
John Cockcroft and Ernest Walton Transmutation of nuclei by accelerated particles 1951
Felix Bloch and Edward Purcell measured magnetic fields in atomic nuclei (NMR) 1952
Walther Bothe Analysis of cosmic radiation using the coincidence method 1954
Willard Libby For his method to use 14C for age determination 1960


Robert Hofstadter studied nuclear structure with electron scattering 1961
Rudolf Mössbauer Discovery of recoilless resonance absorption of gamma rays in nuclei 1961
Eugene Wigner application of symmetry principles to the nucleus 1963
Maria Goeppert-Mayer and Hans Jensen developed the nuclear shell model 1963
Hans Bethe developed the theory of nuclear reactions in stars 1967
Aage Bohr, Ben Mottelson, and James Rainwater developed the theory of collective states in nuclei 1975
Rosalind Yalow Study of insulin using radioactive tracers 1977 (biology)
William Fowler Studies on the formation of nuclear reactions which produce chemical elements in astrophysical processes 1983

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