Physics in Perspective

, Volume 8, Issue 3, pp 255–281 | Cite as

Enrico Fermi’s Discovery of Neutron-Induced Artificial Radioactivity: Neutrons and Neutron Sources

  • Francesco GuerraEmail author
  • Matteo Leone
  • Nadia Robotti


We reconstruct and analyze the path leading from James Chadwick’s discovery of the neutron in February 1932 through Frédéric Joliot and Irène Curie’s discovery of artificial radioactivity in January 1934 to Enrico Fermi’s discovery of neutron-induced artificial radioactivity in March 1934. We show, in particular, that Fermi’s innovative construction and use of radon-beryllium neutron sources permitted him to make his discovery.


Enrico Fermi Orso Mario Corbino Franco Rasetti James Chadwick Norman Feather Ernest Rutherford Frédéric Joliot Irène Curie Domus Galilaeana artificial radioactivity polonium-beryllium neutron source radon-beryllium neutron source 


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Copyright information

© Birkhäuser Verlag, Basel 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of PhysicsUniversity of Rome “La Sapienza” and National Institute of Nuclear Physics Section of Rome 1RomeItaly
  2. 2.Department of PhysicsUniversity of GenoaGenoaItaly

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