Pierre Victor Auger

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Pierre Victor Auger
Pierre Victor Auger.jpg
Pierre Victor Auger
Born(1899-05-14)14 May 1899
Died 25 December 1993(1993-12-25) (aged 94)
Nationality French
Alma mater University of Paris
Known for Auger effect
Auger electron spectroscopy
Scientific career
Fields Physics
Institutions Académie des sciences (France)

Pierre Victor Auger (14 May 1899 25 December 1993) was a French physicist, born in Paris. He worked in the fields of atomic physics, nuclear physics, and cosmic ray physics. [1] He is famous for being one of the discoverers of the Auger effect, named after him.

Physicist scientist who does research in physics

A physicist is a scientist who specializes in the field of physics, which encompasses the interactions of matter and energy at all length and time scales in the physical universe. Physicists generally are interested in the root or ultimate causes of phenomena, and usually frame their understanding in mathematical terms. Physicists work across a wide range of research fields, spanning all length scales: from sub-atomic and particle physics, through biological physics, to cosmological length scales encompassing the universe as a whole. The field generally includes two types of physicists: experimental physicists who specialize in the observation of physical phenomena and the analysis of experiments, and theoretical physicists who specialize in mathematical modeling of physical systems to rationalize, explain and predict natural phenomena. Physicists can apply their knowledge towards solving practical problems or to developing new technologies.

Atomic physics is the field of physics that studies atoms as an isolated system of electrons and an atomic nucleus. It is primarily concerned with the arrangement of electrons around the nucleus and the processes by which these arrangements change. This comprises ions, neutral atoms and, unless otherwise stated, it can be assumed that the term atom includes ions.

Nuclear physics field of physics that deals with the structure and behavior of atomic nuclei

Nuclear physics is the field of physics that studies atomic nuclei and their constituents and interactions. Other forms of nuclear matter are also studied. Nuclear physics should not be confused with atomic physics, which studies the atom as a whole, including its electrons.


Early life

Pierre's father was chemistry professor Victor Auger. Pierre Auger was a student at the École normale supérieure in Paris from 1919 to 1922, the year when he passed the agrégation of physics. He then joined the physical chemistry laboratory of the faculté des sciences of the University of Paris under the direction of Jean Perrin to work there on the photoelectric effect.

An école normale supérieure or ENS is a type of publicly funded higher education in France. A portion of the student body who are French civil servants are called Normaliens. They are selected by a difficult examination, with only 3% of candidates eventually admitted. ENS also offers master's degrees. They could be compared to "Institutes for Advanced Studies" and constitute the top level of research-training education in the French university system.

In France, the agrégation is a competitive examination for civil service in the French public education system. Candidates for the examination, or agrégatifs, become agrégés once they are admitted to the position of professeur agrégé. In France, professeurs agrégés are distinguished from professeurs certifiés recruited through the CAPES training. The agrégés are usually expected to teach at high schools (lycées) and universities, while the certifiés usually teach in junior high schools (collèges), although there is a significant overlap.

University of Paris former university in Paris, France

The University of Paris, metonymically known as the Sorbonne, was a university in Paris, France, active 1150–1793, and 1806–1970.


In 1926 he obtained his doctorate in physics from the University of Paris. In 1927, he was named assistant to the faculté des sciences of Paris and, at the same time, adjoint chief of service to l'Institut de biologie physico-chimique. Chief of work to faculty in 1934 and general secretary of the annual tables of the constants in 1936, he was named university lecturer in physics to the faculty on the first of November 1937. He was charged with, until 1940, the course on the experimental bases of the quantum theory within the chair of theoretical physics and astrophysics. He was also adjoint director of the laboratory of physical chemistry. He then occupied the chair of quantum physics and relativity of the faculté des sciences of Paris.

Quantum mechanics branch of physics dealing with phenomena at scales of the order of the Planck constant

Quantum mechanics, including quantum field theory, is a fundamental theory in physics which describes nature at the smallest scales of energy levels of atoms and subatomic particles.

At the end of World War II, he was named director of higher education from 1945 to 1948, which permitted him to introduce the first chair of genetics at the Sorbonne, conferred upon Boris Ephrussi.

World War II 1939–1945 global war

World War II, also known as the Second World War, was a global war that lasted from 1939 to 1945. The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than 100 million people from over 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. World War II was the deadliest conflict in human history, marked by 50 to 85 million fatalities, most of whom were civilians in the Soviet Union and China. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.

Genetics Science of genes, heredity, and variation in living organisms

Genetics is a branch of biology concerned with the study of genes, genetic variation, and heredity in organisms.

Sorbonne University university in Paris

Sorbonne University is a public research university in Paris, France, established by the merger in 2018 of Paris-Sorbonne University, Pierre et Marie Curie University, and other smaller institutions. The date 1257 on its emblem refers to the historical University of Paris, whose Collège de Sorbonne was founded in 1257 by Robert de Sorbon.

The process where Auger electrons are emitted from atoms is used in Auger electron spectroscopy to study the elements on the surface of materials. [1] This method was named after him, despite the fact that Lise Meitner discovered the process a few years before in 1922.

Auger electron spectroscopy Analytical technique used specifically in the study of surfaces

Auger electron spectroscopy is a common analytical technique used specifically in the study of surfaces and, more generally, in the area of materials science. Underlying the spectroscopic technique is the Auger effect, as it has come to be called, which is based on the analysis of energetic electrons emitted from an excited atom after a series of internal relaxation events. The Auger effect was discovered independently by both Lise Meitner and Pierre Auger in the 1920s. Though the discovery was made by Meitner and initially reported in the journal Zeitschrift für Physik in 1922, Auger is credited with the discovery in most of the scientific community. Until the early 1950s Auger transitions were considered nuisance effects by spectroscopists, not containing much relevant material information, but studied so as to explain anomalies in X-ray spectroscopy data. Since 1953 however, AES has become a practical and straightforward characterization technique for probing chemical and compositional surface environments and has found applications in metallurgy, gas-phase chemistry, and throughout the microelectronics industry.

Lise Meitner Austrian-Swedish physicist

Lise Meitner was an Austrian-Swedish physicist who worked on radioactivity and nuclear physics. Meitner, Otto Hahn and Otto Robert Frisch led the small group of scientists who first discovered nuclear fission of uranium when it absorbed an extra neutron; the results were published in early 1939. Meitner, Hahn and Frisch understood that the fission process, which splits the atomic nucleus of uranium into two smaller nuclei, must be accompanied by an enormous release of energy. Their research into nuclear fission helped to pioneer nuclear reactors to generate electricity as well as the development of nuclear weapons during World War II.


In his work with cosmic rays, he found that the cosmic radiation events were coincident in time meaning that they were associated with a single event, an air shower. He estimated that the energy of the incoming particle that creates large air showers must be at least 1015 electronvolts (eV) = 106 particles of 108 eV (critical energy in air) and a factor of ten for energy loss from traversing the atmosphere. [1] [2]

Cosmic ray High-energy particle, mainly originating outside the Solar system

Cosmic rays are high-energy radiation, mainly originating outside the Solar System and even from distant galaxies. Upon impact with the Earth's atmosphere, cosmic rays can produce showers of secondary particles that sometimes reach the surface. Composed primarily of high-energy protons and atomic nuclei, they are originated either from the sun or from outside of our solar system. Data from the Fermi Space Telescope (2013) have been interpreted as evidence that a significant fraction of primary cosmic rays originate from the supernova explosions of stars. Active galactic nuclei also appear to produce cosmic rays, based on observations of neutrinos and gamma rays from blazar TXS 0506+056 in 2018.

Air shower (physics) shower of particles from a high energy cosmic ray hitting Earths atmosphere

An air shower is an extensive cascade of ionized particles and electromagnetic radiation produced in the atmosphere when a primary cosmic ray enters the atmosphere. When a particle, which could be a proton, a nucleus, an electron, a photon, or (rarely) a positron, strikes an atom's nucleus in the air it produces many energetic hadrons. The unstable hadrons decay in the air speedily into other particles and electromagnetic radiation, which are part of the shower components. The secondary radiation rains down, including x-rays, muons, protons, antiprotons, alpha particles, pions, electrons, positrons, and neutrons.

In physics, the electronvolt is a unit of energy equal to approximately 1.6×10−19 joules in SI units.

Honors and achievements

See also

Related Research Articles

Antimatter Material composed of the antiparticles of the corresponding particles of ordinary matter

In modern physics, antimatter is defined as a material composed of the antiparticles of the corresponding particles of ordinary matter. Minuscule numbers of antiparticles are generated daily at particle accelerators – total production has been only a few nanograms – and in natural processes like cosmic ray collisions and some types of radioactive decay, but only a tiny fraction of these have successfully been bound together in experiments to form anti-atoms. No macroscopic amount of antimatter has ever been assembled due to the extreme cost and difficulty of production and handling.

Auger effect

The Auger effect is a physical phenomenon in which the filling of an inner-shell vacancy of an atom is accompanied by the emission of an electron from the same atom. When a core electron is removed, leaving a vacancy, an electron from a higher energy level may fall into the vacancy, resulting in a release of energy. Although most often this energy is released in the form of an emitted photon, the energy can also be transferred to another electron, which is ejected from the atom; this second ejected electron is called an Auger electron. The effect was first discovered by Lise Meitner in 1922; Pierre Victor Auger independently discovered the effect shortly after and is credited with the discovery in most of the scientific community.

Neutrino Elementary particle with very low mass that interacts only via the weak force and gravity

A neutrino is a fermion that interacts only via the weak subatomic force and gravity. The neutrino is so named because it is electrically neutral and because its rest mass is so small (-ino) that it was long thought to be zero. The mass of the neutrino is much smaller than that of the other known elementary particles. The weak force has a very short range, the gravitational interaction is extremely weak, and neutrinos, as leptons, do not participate in the strong interaction. Thus, neutrinos typically pass through normal matter unimpeded and undetected.

Particle physics Branch of physics

Particle physics is a branch of physics that studies the nature of the particles that constitute matter and radiation. Although the word particle can refer to various types of very small objects, particle physics usually investigates the irreducibly smallest detectable particles and the fundamental interactions necessary to explain their behaviour. By our current understanding, these elementary particles are excitations of the quantum fields that also govern their interactions. The currently dominant theory explaining these fundamental particles and fields, along with their dynamics, is called the Standard Model. Thus, modern particle physics generally investigates the Standard Model and its various possible extensions, e.g. to the newest "known" particle, the Higgs boson, or even to the oldest known force field, gravity.

Positron subatomic particle with positive charge

The positron or antielectron is the antiparticle or the antimatter counterpart of the electron. The positron has an electric charge of +1 e, a spin of 1/2, and has the same mass as an electron. When a positron collides with an electron, annihilation occurs. If this collision occurs at low energies, it results in the production of two or more gamma ray photons.

Pion lightest meson

In particle physics, a pion is any of three subatomic particles:
, and
. Each pion consists of a quark and an antiquark and is therefore a meson. Pions are the lightest mesons and, more generally, the lightest hadrons. They are unstable, with the charged pions
decaying with a mean lifetime of 26.033 nanoseconds, and the neutral pion
decaying with a much shorter lifetime of 8.4×10−17 seconds. Charged pions most often decay into muons and muon neutrinos, while neutral pions generally decay into gamma rays.

A timeline of atomic and subatomic physics.

The Greisen–Zatsepin–Kuzmin limit (GZK limit) is a theoretical upper limit on the energy of cosmic ray protons traveling from other galaxies through the intergalactic medium to our galaxy. The limit is 5×1019 eV, or about 8 joules. The limit is set by slowing interactions of the protons with the microwave background radiation over long distances (~160 million light-years). The limit is at the same order of magnitude as the upper limit for energy at which cosmic rays have experimentally been detected. For example, one extreme-energy cosmic ray has been detected which appeared to possess a record 3.12×1020 eV (50 joules) of energy (about the same as the kinetic energy of a 95 km/h baseball).

James Cronin American physicist

James Watson Cronin was an American particle physicist.

In astroparticle physics, an ultra-high-energy cosmic ray (UHECR) is a cosmic ray with an energy greater than 1 EeV (1018 electronvolts, approximately 0.16 joules), far beyond both the rest mass and energies typical of other cosmic ray particles.

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Pierre Auger Observatory observatory

The Pierre Auger Observatory is an international cosmic ray observatory in Argentina designed to detect ultra-high-energy cosmic rays: sub-atomic particles traveling nearly at the speed of light and each with energies beyond 1018 eV. In Earth's atmosphere such particles interact with air nuclei and produce various other particles. These effect particles (called an "air shower") can be detected and measured. But since these high energy particles have an estimated arrival rate of just 1 per km2 per century, the Auger Observatory has created a detection area of 3,000 km2 (1,200 sq mi)—the size of Rhode Island, or Luxembourg—in order to record a large number of these events. It is located in the western Mendoza Province, Argentina, near the Andes.

Dimitri Nanopoulos Greek physicist

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Artem Isahaki (Isaakovich) Alikhanian was a Soviet Armenian physicist, one of the founders and first director of the Yerevan Physics Institute, a correspondent member of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR (1946), academic of the Armenian Academy of Sciences. With Pyotr Kapitsa, Lev Landau, Igor Kurchatov, Abraham Alikhanov and others, he laid the foundations of nuclear physics in the Soviet Union. He is known as the "father of Armenian physics".

Cosmic-ray observatory

A cosmic-ray observatory is a scientific installation built to detect high-energy-particles coming from space called cosmic rays. This typically includes photons, electrons, protons, and some heavier nuclei, as well as antimatter particles. About 90% of cosmic rays are protons, 9% are alpha particles, and the remaining ~1% are other particles.

Gregory Garibian physicist

Gregory Markari (Markarovich) Garibian was a Soviet Armenian physicist, academician-secretary of the Department of Physics and Mathematics of the Armenian Academy of Sciences (AS)(1973–1991). He is known for developing the Theory of Transition Radiation and showing the feasibility of functional transition radiation detectors (TRDs) . [8] [9]

Pierre Darriulat

Pierre Darriulat is a French experimental particle physicist. As staff member at CERN, he contributed in several prestigious experiments. He was the spokesperson of the UA2 collaboration from 1981 to 1986, during which time the UA2 collaboration, together with the UA1 collaboration, discovered the W and Z bosons in 1983.


  1. 1 2 3 4 Lars Persson (1996). "Pierre Auger-A Life in the Service of Science". Acta Oncologica. 35 (7): 785–787. doi:10.3109/02841869609104027.
  2. P. Auger; et al. (1939). "Extensive Cosmic-Ray Showers". Rev. Mod. Phys. 11 (3–4): 288–291. Bibcode:1939RvMP...11..288A. doi:10.1103/RevModPhys.11.288.
  3. Watson, Alan (July 2006). "The future's bright for the Pierre Auger Observatory". CERN Courier. 46 (6): 12–14.
  4. "Auger observatorycelebrates progress". CERN Courier. 46 (1): 8. February 2006.