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Summary Article: Curie, Pierre
from Chambers Biographical Dictionary

1859-1906

French physicist and Nobel Prize winner

Born in Paris and educated at the Sorbonne, he was laboratory chief at the School of Industrial Physics and Chemistry until 1904, when he was appointed to a new chair in physics at the Sorbonne. With his brother Jacques, he discovered piezoelectricity in 1880 and used a piezoelectric crystal to construct an electrometer; this was later used by Pierre's wife Marie Curie in her investigations of radioactive minerals. In studies of magnetism, Pierre showed that a ferromagnetic material loses this property at a certain temperature - the "Curie point" - and gained his doctorate for this work in 1895. Another of his important results in magnetism was "Curie's law", which relates the magnetic susceptibility of a paramagnetic material to the absolute temperature. From 1898 he worked with his wife on radioactivity, and showed that the rays emitted by radium contained electrically positive, negative and neutral particles. With his wife and Antoine Henri Becquerel he was awarded the Nobel Prize in physics in 1903.

  • Curie, Marie Pierre Curie (Eng trans 1923).
© Chambers Harrap Publishers Ltd 2011

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