Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

Otto Hahn

8 March 1879, Frankfurt-am-Main - 28 July 1968, Göttingen

From 1906 the chemist Otto Hahn was a colleague of Emil Fischer at Berliner Universität, where a 'carpenter's workshop' in the Institute of Chemistry became his laboratory. Starting in 1907 he worked as an associate lecturer at the university and became an associate professor of physical chemistry in 1910. Starting in 1912, he built up a working group at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute of Chemistry and became the director of his own department in 1926.

In 1917 Hahn and his long-time collaborator Lise Meitner discovered protactinium.

Starting in 1934 they both studied the irradiation of uranium with neutrons. Their joint work was stopped by the Nazis, since Lise Meitner was forced to flee. Together with Fritz Strassmann (1902-1980) Otto Hahn conducted the first nuclear fission experiment in 1938. Lise Meitner gave the first physical interpretation of the process by letter in 1939. In 1944 Otto Hahn was awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry for his discovery of the fission of heavy (uranium) atomic nuclei. He was not able to receive the prize until 1946, after being released from captivity as a prisoner of war.