Nuclear Museum Logo
Nuclear Museum Logo

National Museum of Nuclear Science & History

Ida Noddack


ScientistWoman Scientist
Ida Noddack

Ida Noddack, née Tacke, was born in Wesel, Lackhausen in 1896. She earned her doctorate from the Technical University of Berlin in 1921, and became the first woman to hold a professional chemist’s position in the German chemical industry. She went to work at the Physico-Technical Research Agency in Berlin, where she worked alongside Otto Carl Berg and Walter Noddack, her future husband. There, in 1925, the team discovered element 75, Rhenium.

In 1934, Noddack published “On Element 93,” a paper which rebuked Enrico Fermi’s claim to have possibly produced transuranic elements. This paper is noteworthy in part because Noddack suggested that, “it is conceivable that the nucleus breaks up into several large fragments, which would of course be isotopes of known elements but would not be neighbors of the irradiated element.” Although the paper was generally ignored, it now serves as one of the earliest expressions of the idea of nuclear fission.

Noddack was three times nominated for a Nobel Prize — once by herself in 1933, and twice more with her husband in 1935 and 1937. She died on September 24, 1978 in Bad Neuenahr.

Ida Noddack's Timeline
1896 Feb 25th Born in Wesel, Lackhausen.
1921 Received her doctorate from Technical University of Berlin.
1925 Co-discovered rhenium.
1934 Published "On Element 93.
1978 Died in Bad Neuenahr, Germany.

Related Profiles

Gordon T. Hewitt

X-10 Graphite Reactor

Attended the Ohio State University.

George W. Royster

Oak Ridge, TN

George Royster was a civilian physicist working at the X-10 graphite reactor in Oak Ridge, Tennessee.

Margaret Broderick

Cambridge, MA

Margaret (“Chickie”) Broderick was a chemist at MIT during the Manhattan Project. Broderick was born Margaret McHugh in Boston, Massachusetts in 1921.

Maurice Shapiro

Los Alamos, NM

Maurice “Maury” Shapiro was an American physicist who studied underwater explosions at Los Alamos during the Manhattan Project.