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Nuclear Physics

Photo of Marguerite Perey

Marguerite Catherine Perey


Additional Information

Important Contributions:

Discovered and isolated element 87, and studied it properties. She named it francium.


Some Important Publications:

"Sur un element 87, derive de l'Actinium," Comptes Rendus Hebdomadaires des Seances de al'Academie des Sciences, 208: 97 (1939).

"Francium: element 87," Bulletin de la Societe Chimique de France 18: 779 (1951).

"On the Descendents of Actinium K: 87Ac223," Journal de Physique et le Radium17: 545 (1956).


Officier of the Légion d'Honneur 1960

Grand Prix de la Ville de Paris 1960

Officer of the Légion d'Honneur 1960

Elected correspondante of the Académie des Sciences (Paris) 1962. First woman to be elected to the Académie since its founding in 1666.

Lavoisier Prize of the Académie des Sciences 1964

Silver Medal of the Société Chimique de France 1964

Commandeur of the Ordre National du Mérite 1974


1929-34 Personal assistant (preparateur) to Marie Curie, Institut du Radium.

1934-46 Radiochemist, Institut du Radium.

1946-49 Maitre de Recherches, Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), Institut du Radium.

1949- Professeur titulaire de la Chaire de Chimie Nucleaire, Universite de Strasbourg.


Diplome d'Etat de Chimiste, Ecole d'Enseignement Technique Feminine, 1929

Doctorat des Sciences, Sorbonne 1946.

References consulted

[1 CLH], [1Z N20], [15 PGA], [26 SBM], [27 LDO], [33K LSG], [37B TO], [nwps1997cb]

Additional Information/Comments

Born in 1909, in 1929 Perey took a job in the Institut du Radium, directed by Marie Sklodowska Curie. She became Curie's assistant and remained so until Curie died in 1934.

In 1939, at the age of 29, she discovered and isolated a new element of atomic number 87 which she named francium. For decades people had searched for this element and not found it. All the other naturally occurring elements had been found. This wa difficult to find and isolate. It is radioactive with a short half-life of only about 21 minutes.

In 1949, she was appointed to the faculty of the Université of Strasbourg and founded a laboratory for students and colleagues. In 1958it became the Laboratiore de Chimie Nucléaire of the Centre de Recherches Nucléaires; Perey served as Director.

Submitted by:

Daniel Nakada

Field Editor: Steven Mozkowski


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