Georges Charpak

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Georges Charpak
CHARPAK Georges-24x50-2005 cropped.JPG
Born(1924-08-01)1 August 1924
Dąbrowica, Poland
(present day Ukraine)
Died29 September 2010(2010-09-29) (aged 86)
Paris, France
Alma materÉcole des Mines
Collège de France
Known forMultiwire proportional chamber
Spouse(s)Dominique Vidal (m. 1953; 3 children)
AwardsNobel Prize in Physics, 1992
Scientific career

Georges Charpak (French: [ʃaʁpak]; born Jerzy Charpak, 1 August[1] 1924 – 29 September 2010) was a Polish-born French physicist from a Jewish family who was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1992.[2][3][4]


Georges Charpak was born Jerzy Charpak to Jewish parents, Anna (Szapiro) and Maurice Charpak, in the village of Dąbrowica in Poland (now Dubrovytsia in Ukraine). Charpak's family moved from Poland to Paris when he was seven years old, beginning his study of mathematics in 1941 at the Lycée Saint Louis.[5] The actor and film director André Charpak was his brother.

During World War II Charpak served in the resistance and was imprisoned by Vichy authorities in 1943. In 1944 he was deported to the Nazi concentration camp at Dachau, where he remained until the camp was liberated in 1945.

After classes préparatoires studies at Lycée Saint-Louis in Paris and later at Lycée Joffre in Montpellier,[6] he joined in 1945 the Paris-based École des Mines, one of the most prestigious engineering schools in France. The following year he became a naturalized French citizen. He graduated in 1948, earning the French degree of Civil Engineer of Mines (Ingénieur Civil des Mines equivalent to a Master's degree) becoming a pupil in the laboratory of Frédéric Joliot-Curie at the Collège de France during 1949,[5][7] the year after Curie had directed construction of the first atomic pile within France.[8] While at the Collège, Charpak secured a research position[5] for the National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS). He received his PhD in 1954[9] from Nuclear Physics at the Collège de France, receiving the qualification after having written a thesis on the subject of very low radiation due to disintegration of nuclei (Charpak & Suzor).[5][10][11]

In 1959, he joined the staff of CERN (European Organization for Nuclear Research) in Geneva, where he invented and developed[12] the multiwire proportional chamber. The chamber was patented and that quickly superseded the old bubble chambers, allowing for better data processing.[13][14] This new creation had been made public during 1968.[15] Charpak was later to become a joint inventor with Nlolc and Policarpo of the scintillation drift chamber during the latter parts of the 1970s.[16] He eventually retired from CERN in 1991. In 1980, Georges Charpak became professor-in-residence at École supérieure de physique et de chimie industrielles in Paris (ESPCI) and held the Joliot-Curie Chair there in 1984. This is where he developed and demonstrated the powerful applications of the particle detectors he invented, most notably for enabling better health diagnostics. He was the co-founder of a number of start-up in the biolab arena, including Molecular Engines Laboratories, Biospace Instruments and SuperSonic Imagine – together with Mathias Fink. He was elected to the French Academy of Sciences on 20 May 1985.

Georges Charpak was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1992 "for his invention and development of particle detectors, in particular the multiwire proportional chamber", with affiliations to both École supérieure de physique et de chimie industrielles (ESPCI) and CERN. This was the last time a single person was awarded the physics prize, as of 2020. In 1999, Charpak received the Golden Plate Award of the American Academy of Achievement.[17]

In France, Charpak was a very strong advocate for nuclear power. Charpak was a member of the Board of Sponsors of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.[18]

Charpak married Dominique Vidal in 1953. They had three children.[19] The pediatrician Nathalie Charpak (born 1955) is his daughter.



  • La vie à fil tendu, co-authored with Dominique Saudinos (1993 Odile Jacob, ISBN 2-7381-0214-X)
  • Devenez sorciers, devenez savants, co-authored with Henri Broch (Odile Jacob, ISBN 90-5814-005-9). Published in English as "Debunked!" by the Johns Hopkins University Press.

Technical reports[edit]


  1. ^ "Georges Charpak Facts". The Nobel Prize. 2 October 2010. Retrieved 1 August 2020.
  2. ^ French Nobel physics laureate Georges Charpak dies at 86 Earthtimes. 30 September 2010. Retrieved 30 September 2010
  3. ^ Giomataris, I. (2010). "Georges Charpak (1924–2010)". Nature. 467 (7319): 1048. Bibcode:2010Natur.467.1048G. doi:10.1038/4671048a. PMID 20981084.
  4. ^ "Georges Charpak: Nobel Physics Prize 1992". CERN Courier. 32 (10): 1–6. December 1992. Archived from the original on 2015-03-10.
  5. ^ a b c d CERN Scientific Information Service - Archive. CERN. Retrieved 2012-01-29.
  6. ^ "Tribulations d’un immigré d’Europe centrale, Georges Charpak" on Lycée Joffre website (in French)
  7. ^ Georges Charpak - Research on particle imaging detectors - 650 pages Volume 6 of World Scientific series in 20th century physics World Scientific, 1995 29 Jan 2012 ISBN 981-02-1902-4
  8. ^ "Frédéric Joliot - Biography". 29 Jan 2012 + [ atomic pile = fi Archived 2012-01-26 at the Wayback Machine + anl + us ]
  9. ^ Charpak, G.; Suzor, F. - 1954 May 01 Retrieved 2012-01-29
  10. ^ See : 228Ac = (Actinium 228)
  11. ^ F.Suzor et G.Charpak 1959 (June) Study of the electrons and X-rays of autoionisation with Beta radiation of Prometheum 147 - archive
  12. ^ Bouclier, R.; Charpak, G.; Dimčovski, Z.; Fischer, G.; Sauli, F.; Coignet, G.; Flügge, G. (1970). "Investigation of some properties of multiwire proportional chambers". Nuclear Instruments and Methods. 88 (1): 149–161. Bibcode:1970NucIM..88..149B. doi:10.1016/0029-554X(70)90872-4.
  13. ^ Giomataris, Ioannis (December 2010). "Georges Charpak-a true man of science". CERN Courier. 50 (10): 33–36.
  14. ^ Catapano, Paola (March 2009). "Georges Charpak: hardwired for science". CERN Courier. 42 (2): 24–28.
  15. ^ IEEEieeeghn Retrieved 2012-01-29
  16. ^ Elena Aprile, Aleksey E. Bolotnikov, Alexander I. Bolozdynya, Tadayoshi Doke - Noble Gas Detectors - 362 pages John Wiley & Sons, 28 May 2007 (Google eBook) Retrieved 2012-01-29 ISBN 3-527-60963-6
  17. ^ "Golden Plate Awardees of the American Academy of Achievement". American Academy of Achievement.
  18. ^ Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists: Board of Sponsors Archived 2009-04-20 at the Wayback Machine. Retrieved on 2011-07-04.
  19. ^ Maugh II, Thomas H. (October 8, 2010). "Georges Charpak dies at 86; French physicist won Nobel Prize". Los Angeles Times.

External links[edit]