AUTHORGuerra, Francesco / Leone, Matteo / Robotti, Nadia
TITLEEnrico Fermi's Discovery of Neutron-Induced Artificial Radioactivity: Neutrons and Neutron Sources
PERIODICAL TITLEPhysics in Perspective
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Beginning with James Chadwick’s discovery of the neutron in 1932, the authors trace events leading to Frédéric Joliot and Irène Curie's discovery of artificial radioactivity in January 1934, and to Enrico Fermi’s use of neutrons to produce radioactive isotopes in March 1934. The paper emphasizes the importance of Fermi’s powerful radon-beryllium neutron source in generating those isotopes. It shows that Fermi initiated his work with neutrons after learning of the Joliot-Curie's production of artificial radioactivity using radiation from alpha sources. Fermi’s discovery ultimately led to the discovery of the enhanced effects of moderated neutrons on inducing radioactivity, the production of transuranic elements, and the discovery of fission. The work is supported by extensive references and is one of a series of papers by the same authors published in Physics in Perspective on the history of 20th-century radioactivity research.

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