Alexandre Edmond Becquerel

The Becquerel Prize is named after Alexandre Edmond Becquereli (24 March 1820 – 11 May 1891). Alexandre-Edmond Becquerel was born in Paris and was the assistant and later the successor of his father, Antoine Cesar Becquerel, at the Museum National d’Histoire Naturelle. 

In 1839, at the age of 19, he created and analyzed the world´s first photovoltaic cellii,iii in the laboratory of his father. The photovoltaic cell consisted of two electrodes in an acidic solution, separated by a thin membrane. He illuminated one of the electrodes. Especially when the electrodes were coated with AgCl or AgBr, he could observe a significant generation of electricity.  Since he could exclude that this effect was due to temperature effects (induced by the illumination), he concluded that the light itself was the reason for his observation. Furthermore Becquerel already discovered the influence of the spectrum of light on the photovoltaic effect; he noted that blue light yielded the highest current generation. 

Alexandre-Edmond Becquerel was also very active in other research related to the effects of light like photography and phosphorescence. In 1867/68 he published the important book: “La lumière, ses causes et ses effets (Light, its causes and effects)”.


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i not to be confused with his son Henri Becquerel who received the Nobel Prize in Physics for the discovery of radioactivity

ii A.E. Becquerel, "Recherches sur les effets de la radiation chimique de la lumiere solaire au moyen des courants electriques", Comptes Rendus de L'Academie des Sciences, Vol. 9, pp. 145-149, 1839; 

also Annalen der Physik und Chemie, Vol. 54, pp. 18-34, 1841.

iii A.E. Becquerel, "Memoire sur les effects electriques produits sous I'influence des rayons solaires", Comptes Rendus de L'Academie des Sciences, Vol. 9, pp. 561- 567, 1839; 

also Annalen der Physik und Chemie, Vol. 54, pp. 35-42, 1841.