• The Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1935 was awarded jointly to Frédéric Joliot and Irène Joliot-Curie "in recognition of their synthesis of new radioactive elements". The wife-and-husband team, received the Nobel Prize for their discovery of “artificial,” or “induced,” radioactivity in which radioactive atoms could be prepared relatively inexpensive. This was a huge boon to the progress of nuclear physics and nuclear medicine, particularly in treatment of cancer.
  • Irene was born on September 12, 1897 in  Paris. Irène was the daughter of more illustrious parents Pierre and Marie Curie, both were Nobel laureates in physics (1903). Latter her mother Marie Curie received Nobel Prize in Chemistry also in 1911.  Both Frédéric  and Irène worked on radioactivity. Irene attended a special school organized by her mother for children of her and her scientist friends. The major emphasis was given on science. During the World war I, Irène  a teenager,  had worked with her mother in the radiography corps. She assisted her mother at the Radium Institute in Paris. She completed her doctorate work during this period.
  • Frédéric was born in Paris, France on March 19, 1900.  In 1925 he joined the laboratory of Madam Curie at the Radium Institute. He fell in love with her daughter Irène Curie and married her in 1926. Interestingly, they both changed their surnames to Joliot-Curie after their marriage. Madam Curie requested Frédéric to obtain a second bachelor's degree, and a doctorate in science. His thesis was on the electrochemistry of radio-elements. The couple was politically active and worked to combat fascism and Nazism.
  • When Frédéric was a lecturer at the Paris Faculty of Science, he collaborated with Irene, her wife, in research on the projection, or recoil, of nuclei that had been struck by other particles. From these results, Chadwick got the clue to discover neutron in 1932.
  • Frédéric Joliot and Irène Joliot-Curie bombarded a thin piece of aluminum with alpha particles (helium atom nuclei) and during that experiment, they found that  a new kind of radiation was discovered that left traces inside an apparatus known as a cloud chamber. The couple observed  that the radiation from the aluminum continued even after the source of radiation was removed. They concluded that this happened  because aluminum atoms were  converted into a radioactive isotope of phosphorus. These experiments resulted that a radioactive element had been created artificially
  • In 1935,  Frédéric  and Irène were jointly awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for their discovery of "artificial radioactivity". Frédéric served as director of the French National Center for Scientific Research after the liberation of France. He became France's first High Commissioner for Atomic Energy. Joliot-Curie was one of the eleven signatories to the Russell-Einstein Manifesto which was released by Bertrand Russell in 1955 highlighting the dangers posed by nuclear weapons and calling the world leaders to seek peaceful resolutions to international conflict. Both of their son and daughter were scientists and carried their legacy.
  • Irène died in Paris on March 17, 1956 and  Frédéric died in Paris on August 14, 1958.

Contributed by Dr Pradosh P Chakrabarti, CSIR-Indian Institute of Chemical Technology, Hyderabad