Horia Hulubei

Horia Hulubei (Romanian pronunciation: [ˈhori.a huluˈbej]; 15 November 1896 – 22 November 1972) was a Romanian nuclear physicist, known for his contributions to the development of X-ray spectroscopy.

Horia Hulubei
Horia Hulubei 2016 stamp of Romania.jpg
Born(1896-11-15)15 November 1896
Died22 November 1972(1972-11-22) (aged 76)
Alma materUniversity of Iași
Paris-Sorbonne University
Known forDevelopment of X-ray spectroscopy
AwardsLegion of Honour
Titular member of the Romanian Academy
Scientific career
InstitutionsUniversity of Iași
University of Bucharest
ThesisContribution to the study of quantum diffusion of X-rays (1933)
Doctoral advisorJean Perrin
Military career
AllegianceKingdom of Romania
Service/branchRomanian Land Forces
French Air Force
Years of service1916–1918
RankSecond lieutenant
Battles/warsWorld War I

Education and military serviceEdit

Born in Iași, he graduated in 1915 first in his class at the Boarding High School of Iași.[1] He then enrolled in the Faculty of Sciences at the University of Iași, but his studies were interrupted by the entry of Romania in World War I; conscripted into the army, he fought as a second lieutenant at the battles of Nămoloasa, Băltăreți, and Mărășești in the summer of 1917.[1][2] General Henri Mathias Berthelot, the head of the French military mission to Romania, decided to send a group of young Romanians (including Hulubei) to France to train at an aviation school; upon completing the training, Hulubei participated as a pilot on a fighter aircraft of the French Air Force on the Western Front. Gravely wounded, he was awarded the Legion of Honour.[1][2]

Upon returning to Romania, he worked for a while in civil aviation, and helped start the first Romanian air service, connecting Istanbul to Bucharest to Budapest. In 1922 he returned to his studies in physics and chemistry, completing in 1926 his undergraduate degree at the University of Iași, magna cum laude.[1] He then went to Paris for his graduate studies, obtaining his Ph.D. from Paris-Sorbonne University, where his advisor was the Nobel laureate Jean Perrin.[3] His Ph.D. thesis with the title "Contribution to the study of quantum diffusion of X-rays" was defended in 1933 in Paris in front of an examination committee chaired by Nobel laureate Marie Curie.[4] Afterwards he continued his research at the University of Paris, staying in contact with the likes of Frédéric Joliot-Curie, Paul Langevin, and Albert Einstein.[5]

Scientific achievementsEdit

Hulubei in his lab

Between 1927 and 1938, he worked alternately in Paris and at the University of Iași, where he established the first laboratory of the structure of matter in Romania.[5] With the help of his advanced X-ray spectroscopy equipment he observed several previously unidentified X-ray spectral lines, and subsequently came to the decision that such lines are associated with new elements. In 1936, Hulubei together with Yvette Cauchois claimed to have discovered element 85 via X-ray analysis, conducting further research and publishing on follow-up studies in 1939.[6] With Cauchois and Sonia Cotelle, he established the presence of polonium and neptunium.[7] Hulubei also claimed and published the discovery of a new element, "moldavium", in 1936, the discovery of "sequanium" in 1939, and that of "dor" in 1945. Later, however, it was shown that the reported X-ray lines did not belong to new elements.[8]

For his many scientific achievements the National Institute for Physics and Nuclear Engineering in Romania was named after him, as the "Horia Hulubei National Institute of Physics and Nuclear Engineering" (IFIN HH).[9] He was the Founder and First Director of the Institute of Atomic Physics [ro] (IFA) in Măgurele in 1949.[10]

Elected corresponding member of the Romanian Academy in 1937,[11] Hulubei became a titular member in 1946.[12] Stripped of membership by the new communist regime in 1948, he was restored to the Academy in 1955.[13] Hulubei was also corresponding member (from 1935) and titular member (from 1941) of the Romanian Academy of Sciences, and served as Vice-President of the organization in 1947–48.[11]

University teachingEdit

During the early 1960s and 1970s Hulubei was a Professor of Atomic Physics in the Department of Atomic and Nuclear Physics of the Faculty of Physics at the University of Bucharest, where he delivered elegant and clear lectures on the Compton effect and inelastic Compton scattering/resonant inelastic X-ray scattering (RIXS).


  • Course Notes of Physical Chemistry, Ed. Academiei, Bucharest, 1940. ( "Curs de chimie fizică "(1940))
  • X-ray Spectroscopy ("Spectroscopia X"). (1948)
  • The Structure of Matter. "Structura materiei" (1950)


  1. ^ a b c d Frangopol, Petre T. (2012). "Horia Hulubei". Revista de Politica Științei și Scientometrie. Serie Nouă (in Romanian). 1 (3): 178–183. Retrieved 16 January 2021.
  2. ^ a b Golea, Sorin (27 March 2018). "Tumultuoasa viață a lui Horia Hulubei, părintele fizicii nucleare românești. A fost pilot de vânătoare, spion, arestat de comuniști, apoi numit director de institut". Libertatea (in Romanian). Retrieved 16 January 2021.
  3. ^ Constantinescu, Bogdan; Bugoi, Roxana (1998). "Romanian University Physics Teaching and Research (1860–1940)". Science & Education. 7 (3): 307. Bibcode:1998Sc&Ed...7..307C. doi:10.1023/A:1008657521233. S2CID 116947746.
  4. ^ Olariu, Agata; Stenström, Kristina; Hellborg, Ragnar (2005). Proceedings of the International Conference on Applications of High Precision Atomic & Nuclear Methods: Neptun, Romania: 2-6 September 2002. București: Editura Academiei Române. p. ix. ISBN 973-27-1181-7. OCLC 895138284.
  5. ^ a b "Horia Hulubei (1896–1972)". www.phys.uaic.ro. Faculty of Physics, Alexandru Ioan Cuza University of Iași. Retrieved 16 January 2021.
  6. ^ Hulubei, Horia; Yvette, Cauchois (1939). "Spectres de l'émission propre ondulatorie du radon et de ses dérivés. Raies attribuables a l'élément 85". Comptes rendus de l'Académie des Sciences (in French). 209: 39–42.
  7. ^ Nina, Byers; Williams, Gary (2006). "Chapter 20: Yvette Cauchois (1908-1999)". Out of the shadows: contributions of twentieth-century women to physics (Reprinted ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. pp. 224–225. ISBN 9780521821971. Retrieved 16 January 2021.
  8. ^ Fontani, Marco (10 September 2005). "The Twilight of the Naturally-Occurring Elements: Moldavium (Ml), Sequanium (Sq) and Dor (Do)". International Conference on the History of Chemistry. Lisbon. pp. 1–8. Archived from the original on 24 February 2006. Retrieved 8 April 2007.
  9. ^ "Horia Hulubei National Institute for R&D in Physics and Nuclear Engineering (IFIN-HH)". www.nipne.ro. Retrieved 16 January 2021.
  10. ^ "IFA Between Legend and Hope". Archived from the original on 1 May 2010. Retrieved 16 January 2021.
  11. ^ a b "Academia de Științe din Romania" (PDF). www.aosr.ro (in Romanian). Retrieved 16 January 2021.
  12. ^ "Membrii Academiei Române din 1866 până în prezent". www.acad.ro (in Romanian). Romanian Academy.
  13. ^ Berindei, Dan (2008), "Academia Română și revoluția din decembrie 1989", Memoriile Secției de Științe Istorice (in Romanian), 33: 157

External linksEdit