ANTOINE-HENRI BECQUEREL (1852-1908)

1898 – France

‘1903 – Awarded the Nobel-Prize for Physics jointly with Marie and Pierre Curie’

picture of a rock displaying fluorescence under short wavelength radiation

The phenomenon of fluorescence – displayed under short wavelength radiation

Stimulated by WILHELM CONRAD ROENTGEN’s discovery of X-rays in 1895, Becquerel chanced upon the phenomenon that is now known as radioactivity in 1896. The Frenchman believed that Roentgen’s X-rays were responsible for the fluorescence displayed by some substances after being placed in sunlight. Although he was wrong to assume that fluorescence had anything to do with X-rays, he tested large numbers of fluorescent minerals.

He found that uranium, the heaviest element, caused an impression on a covered photographic plate, even after several days in the dark, and concluded that a phenomenon independent of sunlight induced luminescence.
Investigation isolated uranium as the cause of the ‘radioactivity’, a name given to the occurrence by MARIE CURIE.

The SI unit of radioactivity, the becquerel is named in his honour.

picture of the Nobel medal - link to nobelprize.org
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NEXT button - MARIE CURIE (1867-1934) PIERRE CURIE (1859-1906)TIMELINE

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