Go to Home Page
  Library Biographies Otto Robert Frisch

Otto Robert Frisch

Otto Frisch was born on 1 October 1904 in Vienna, Austria. He received his doctorate degree in 1926 from the University of Vienna and continued to conduct research at the universities in Berlin and Hamburg, Germany. During the early 1930s, Adolf Hitler began his campaign of persecution, and Frisch, being a Jew, was forced to abandon his work in Germany and move to Copenhagen.

Lise Meitner, who was Frisch's aunt and who was also living in exile, informed him of a discovery by Otto Hahn that would lead the physicists to produce the first nuclear fission. After settling in Birmingham, England in 1939, Otto Frisch expanded on this research with Rudolf Peierls. Peierls and Frisch demonstrated that the fissioning of uranium had

Printer Friendly

More on the Web
Alsos Digital Library for Nuclear Issues

the potential to create a volatile chain reaction which, when using uranium-235, could be used to develop an extremely destructive weapon.

As the Manhattan Project was underway in the US, Frisch was left out of the research because his foreign status posed a security risk. Ironically, it was his previous discoveries that had contributed to the possibility of such a weapon being built in the first place. In 1943, along with many other scientists that had been exiled from Germany, Otto Frisch was naturalized and permitted to work for the top-secret program in Los Alamos, New Mexico.

After World War II, Frisch returned to England to work for the Atomic Energy Research Establishment at Harwell and held the Jackson Chair of Physics at Cambridge from 1947 to 1979. Otto Frisch died on 22 September, 1979 in Cambridge, England.