Otto Hahn (1879-1968)


German chemist, was born in March 8th 1879, in Frankfurt-am-Main, and died in July 28th 1968, in Goettingen.

Studied Chemistry in Munich and in the University of Marburgh, where he finished his Ph.D. thesis, in 1901, in Organic Chemistry. In 1905, working with Sir William Ramsay in London, discovered the radioisotope radio-thorium. In 1907, working with Rutherford in Canada, discovered the radio-actinium. During this collaboration, he decided to abandon Organic Chemistry in favor of the chemistry of radioactive substances.

When Hahn returned to Germany, continued his research in the Emil Fischer Institute, in Berlin. There, he discovered meso-thorium, used instead of radium in medical applications. By that time, Otto Hahn began to work with Lisa Meitner. In 1912, entered the Kaiser Wilhelm Chemistry Institute, in Berlin-Dahlem. Hahn and his co-workers at that institute discovered protactinium. They still proved the existence of nuclear isomers; calculated the age of the Earth through natural radioactivity and improved the methods of high-speed chemical analysis used in short half-life isotope studies.

In 1935, together with Meitner and Strassman, Hahn began to work in uranium bombardment with neutrons, which led to the discovery, in 1938, of nuclear fission. For this work he was awarded the Nobel Prize of Chemistry in 1944.

Hahn proceeded his research in Nuclear Physics, in Germany, during World War II, until he was captured by the Allied Forces and sent to England. In 1946, went to Sweden to receive his Nobel Prize, becoming, soon after, president of the Max Planck Institute in Goettingen, Germany.