Famous French Chemists

Modern chemistry wouldn’t have been as it is today had it not been for the French chemist Antoine Lavoisier, father of modern chemistry. The nobleman from France executed a strong influence on chemistry and was responsible for the chemical revolution of the 18th century. But that isn’t all while talking of French chemists. Remember Marie Curie and her pioneering research work on radioactivity? She too was a French chemist. Who can forget Joseph Louis Gay Lussac who let the world know that water was made up of two parts of hydrogen and one part of oxygen! He also gave the world the two laws related to gases and did revolutionary work on alcohol-water mixtures. Had it not been for French chemist Louis Pasteur, vaccinations, microbial fermentation and pasteurization would have been unheard of concepts. Other prominent French chemists include Auguste Laurent who helped in founding organic chemistry, Nobel laureate Pierre Curie and his work on crystallography, magnetism and radioactivity, Henry Louis Chatelier and his Le Chatelier principle and so on. French chemists have contributed greatly to the field of chemistry through their ground-breaking discoveries and research wok. Browse through this segment and know more about famous French Chemists.

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

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 1 
Marie Curie
(Physicist Who Conducted Pioneering Research on 'Radioactivity' and First Woman to Win a Nobel Prize)

Marie Curie
12
Birthdate: November 7, 1867
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Warsaw, Poland
Died: July 4, 1934
Amongst the most notable scientists of her time, the first woman to win a Nobel Prize, the sole person to win two Nobel Prize in two different category, and the first woman professor at the University of Paris—Marie Curie’s list of achievements is incredible. She did extensive research in the field of radioactivity and discovered polonium and radium.

 2 
Louis Pasteur
(Chemist and Microbiologist)

Louis Pasteur
12
Birthdate: December 27, 1822
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Dole, France
Died: September 28, 1895
Considered one of the founders of bacteriology, Louis Pasteur created vaccines for anthrax and rabies, and invented the process of heating food and wine to kill microbes that cause contamination, which was named pasteurization after him. Known as the “father of microbiology,” he also founded the Pasteur Institute in Paris.  

 3 

Antoine Lavoisier
8
Birthdate: August 26, 1743
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: May 8, 1794

Antoine Lavoisier was a French chemist and nobleman. He played a crucial role during the chemical revolution of the 18th-century. Widely regarded as the father of modern chemistry, Lavoisier had a major influence on the history of biology as well as the history of chemistry. He also helped build the metric system. 

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 4 

Irène Joliot-Curie
6
Birthdate: September 12, 1897
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: March 17, 1956

Marie Curie and Pierre Curie’s daughter, Irène Joliot-Curie, herself a brilliant scientist, won the 1935 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, along with her husband, Joliot-Curie, for discovering artificial radioactivity. She was also one of the first three female French government members. She tragically died of leukemia caused by exposure to radiation.

Joseph Louis Gay-Lussac
5
Birthdate: December 6, 1778
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Saint-Léonard-de-Noblat, France
Died: May 9, 1850

Known for his pathbreaking Gay-Lussac's Law, French chemist-physicist Joseph Louis Gay-Lussac was also the first, along with his colleague Alexander von Humboldt, to discover that water is composed of one part of oxygen and two parts of hydrogen. His name is one of the 72 that adorn the Eiffel Tower.

Éleuthère Irénée du Pont
4
Birthdate: June 24, 1771
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: October 31, 1834

Éleuthère Irénée du Pont was the founder of the American gunpowder company E. I. du Pont de Nemours and Company and the patriarch of the famous du Pont family of businessmen. Born in France, du Pont had escaped to the U.S. with his family during the French Revolution. 

 7 
Paul Langevin
(Physicist, Professor, Chemist, Philosopher of science, Educationist, Non-fiction writer)

Paul Langevin
3
Birthdate: January 23, 1872
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Paris
Died: December 19, 1946

Best known for developing the Langevin dynamics and the Langevin equation, physicist Paul Langevin was also a staunch Communist. Having worked on his doctoral thesis under Pierre Curie, he had formed a connection with Curie’s wife, Marie Curie, which developed into a full-blown love affair after Pierre’s death.

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 8 
Jacques Charles
(Physicist, Chemist, Inventor, Balloonist, Mathematician)

Jacques Charles
3
Birthdate: November 12, 1746
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Beaugency
Died: April 7, 1823

Best known for developing the Charles’s law, which explains the expansion of gases when heated, Jacques Charles was a prominent French physicist. He was the first to ascend in a hydrogen-filled gas balloon, thus pioneering hot-air balloon flight. The Académie des Sciences member later became a professor of physics.

 9 
Joseph Black
(Chemist, Physicist, Scientist, University teacher)

Joseph Black
3
Birthdate: April 16, 1728
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Bordeaux
Died: December 6, 1799

Joseph Black was an 18th-century Scottish physicist and chemist. He is remembered for his discoveries of magnesium, specific heat, latent heat, and carbon dioxide. He spent several years of his career as a professor of medicine and chemistry at the University of Edinburgh. In 1783, he became one of the founders of the Royal Society of Edinburgh. 

 10 
Eugène Schueller
(Founder of L'Oréal)

Eugène Schueller
0
Birthdate: March 20, 1881
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: August 23, 1957

 11 
Joseph Proust
(Chemist)

Joseph Proust
3
Birthdate: September 26, 1754
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Angers, France
Died: July 5, 1826

Initially training to be an apothecary like his father, Joseph Proust later deviated to pharmacy and then to chemistry. He is best remembered for developing the law of definite proportions, also known as the Proust's law, which states that pure chemical compounds always consist of constant proportions of constituent elements.

 12 

Jean-Pierre Sauvage
3
Birthdate: October 21, 1944
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Paris, France

Nobel Prize-winning French chemist Jean-Pierre Sauvage is currently associated with Strasbourg University. He has gained recognition for his research on supramolecular and coordination chemistry, and for creating molecular chains, such as catenane, that mimic the mechanical functions by changing their nature in response to external cues.

Michel Eugène Chevreul
3
Birthdate: August 31, 1786
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Angers, France
Died: April 9, 1889

Born into a family of surgeons, chemist Michel Eugène Chevreul naturally found an interest in science in his early days. His initial work involved separating colored substances from plant tissue and fats from animal tissue. His discoveries revolutionized color painting and also boosted the soap and candle industries.

 14 
Marguerite Perey
(Physicist)

Marguerite Perey
2
Birthdate: October 19, 1909
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Villemomble, France
Died: May 13, 1975

Marie-Anne Paulze Lavoisier
3
Birthdate: January 20, 1758
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Montbrison, France
Died: February 10, 1836

At 13, Marie-Anne Paulze Lavoisier had married lawyer and chemist Antoine Lavoisier. Her mastery of English helped her assist her husband communicate with his collaborators. She also illustrated her husband’s books and eventually negotiated with Joseph Priestley, on his behalf, over the naming of oxygen, which Priestley had discovered.

 16 
Henri Moissan
(Chemist)

Henri Moissan
3
Birthdate: September 28, 1852
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Paris
Died: February 20, 1907

Henri Moissan was a French chemist and pharmacist. He is best known for his work in isolating fluorine from its compounds, an achievement that earned him the 1906 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. He was one of the original members of the International Atomic Weights Committee. He also made significant contributions to the production of artificial diamonds.

 17 

Brigitte Boisselier
3
Birthdate: April 3, 1956
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Langres, France

Brigitte Boisselier leads Clonaid, a company focused on human cloning research. She is also a leader of the quasi-religious Raëlism movement, which believes humans were created by aliens. Although she once announced that Clonaid had successfully cloned a human child, the legal questions surrounding it later silenced her.

 18 

Marcellin Berthelot
3
Birthdate: October 25, 1827
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: March 18, 1907

Born to a doctor in Paris, Marcellin Berthelot was an intelligent student in his younger days and excelled in history and philosophy before gaining an interest in chemistry. Best known for proposing the Thomsen–Berthelot principle of thermochemistry, he was one of the “Forty Immortals” of the French Academy.

 19 

Victor Grignard
3
Birthdate: May 6, 1871
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Cherbourg-Octeville, France
Died: December 13, 1935

Victor Grignard was a French chemist whose discovery of the Grignard Reagent earned him the prestigious Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1912. Subsequently, he was honored with a medal of the Legion of Honour, the highest French order of merit. As a chemist, he also played an important role during the First World War.

 20 

Jean-Marie Lehn
2
Birthdate: September 30, 1939
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Rosheim, France

French chemist Jean-Marie Lehn is noted for his work on synthesis of cryptands and his early innovation in supramolecular chemistry. Efforts of Lehn, Donald Cram and Charles Pedersen in discovering and determining applications of cryptands and crown ethers, which paved way for launch of the field of supramolecular chemistry, led them to receive the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1987.

 21 
Georges Claude
(Engineer)

Georges Claude
2
Birthdate: September 24, 1870
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: May 23, 1960

French engineer and inventor Georges Claude was often referred as the Edison of France. He is most noted for inventing and commercializing neon lighting and having a near monopoly on the new technology, for conducting an experiment to generate thermal energy of the ocean and building the first Ocean Thermal Energy Conversion (OTEC) plant, and for the Claude cycle.  

Henri Louis Le Chatelier
2
Birthdate: October 8, 1850
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: September 17, 1936

French chemist Le Chatelier is most noted for his work on Le Chatelier's principle as also on varying solubility of salts in an ideal solution. The Le Chatelier's principle, which chemists and chemical engineers use for predicting the effect a changing condition, like temperature or pressure, has on a system in chemical equilibrium was devised by him.

 23 

Jean-Baptiste Dumas
2
Birthdate: July 14, 1800
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Alès, France
Died: April 10, 1884

Jean-Baptiste Dumas was a 19th-century French chemist. He is best remembered for his works on organic analysis and synthesis. He is also credited with developing a method for the analysis of nitrogen in compounds. He was a member of the French Academy of Sciences and one of the founders of the École centrale des arts et manufactures. 

 24 
Paul Sabatier
(Chemist)

Paul Sabatier
2
Birthdate: November 5, 1854
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Carcassonne, France
Died: August 14, 1941

Paul Sabatier was a French chemist known for his work improving the hydrogenation of organic species in the presence of metals. Along with Victor Grignard, he was jointly awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1912. He is also remembered for developing what is now known as the Sabatier process and the Sabatier principle of catalysis. 

 25 

Louis Nicolas Vauquelin
2
Birthdate: May 16, 1763
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Saint-Andre-d’Hebertot, France
Died: November 14, 1829

Louis Nicolas Vauquelin was a French chemist and pharmacist. He is best known for his discoveries of chromium and beryllium. He worked as an assistant in the laboratory of chemist  A. F. Fourcroy and later obtained the post of laboratory assistant at the Jardin du Roi. He eventually became a  professor at the University of Paris. 

Claude-Louis Berthollet
2
Birthdate: December 9, 1748
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Talloires, France
Died: November 6, 1822

Savoyard-French chemist Claude Louis Berthollet is known for reorganising chemical nomenclature with his colleagues and for introducing the use of chlorine gas as a commercial bleach. He developed a solution of sodium hypochlorite as a modern bleaching agent, first ascertained the elemental composition of ammonia gas, and introduced the reversible reaction concept leading to development of the chemical equilibrium concept.

 27 

Charles Frédéric Gerhardt
2
Birthdate: August 21, 1816
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Strasbourg, France
Died: August 19, 1856

Charles Frédéric Gerhardt was a French chemist. He developed an early interest in chemistry and studied the subject under German chemist Otto Linné Erdmann. He later went to Paris and attended Jean Baptiste Dumas’ lectures before embarking on an academic career. He is best known for his work on reforming the notation for chemical formulas. 

Louis-Sébastien Lenormand
2
Birthdate: May 25, 1757
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Montpellier, France
Died: April 4, 1837

 29 

Charles Friedel
2
Birthdate: March 12, 1832
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Strasbourg, France
Died: April 20, 1899

Charles Friedel was a French chemist and mineralogist. He studied under famed chemist and microbiologist  Louis Pasteur at the Sorbonne. He later obtained the post of professor of chemistry and mineralogy at the Sorbonne. He collaborated with James Crafts to develop the Friedel-Crafts alkylation and acylation reactions. His son Georges also became a renowned mineralogist. 

 30 
Yves Chauvin
(French chemist)

Yves Chauvin
2
Birthdate: October 10, 1930
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Menen
Died: January 27, 2015

Known for his independent work on olefin metathesis, in which catalysts create and break double carbon bonds of organic molecules, Yves Chauvin played a significant role in the advancement of the green chemistry and helped to develop many new products like advanced plastics, fuel additives, and pharmaceuticals. For this role, he was co-awarded the 2005 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

 31 

Bernard Courtois
2
Birthdate: February 8, 1777
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Dijon, France
Died: September 27, 1838

Bernard Courtois was a French chemist. He is credited with isolating iodine and morphine. Interested in chemistry from a young age, he learned how to make potassium nitrate for gunpowder for the French Revolution. He later found work at the École Polytechnique in Paris. Later in life, he went into manufacturing high-quality iodine and its salts. 

 32 
Anselme Payen
(Chemist)

Anselme Payen
1
Birthdate: January 6, 1795
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: May 12, 1871

French chemist Anselme Payen is known for co-discovering the first enzyme diastase, and for discovering the carbohydrate cellulose. He broke the Dutch monopoly for borax by developing a method to synthesize borax from soda and boric acid; developed a method to determine nitrogen and methods for refining sugar; and invented a decolorimeter.

 33 

Henri-Victor Regnault
2
Birthdate: July 21, 1810
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Aachen, Germany
Died: January 19, 1878

Noted French chemist and physicist Henri-Victor Regnault initially taught chemistry and then gained fame for his research on the thermal properties of gases. He lost both his laboratory and his son during the Franco-German War. His is one of the 72 names that adorn the Eiffel Tower.

Alexandre-Théophile Vandermonde
1
Birthdate: February 28, 1735
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: January 1, 1796

Alexandre-Théophile Vandermonde initially made a name for himself as a violinist. He drifted to mathematics much later, at age 35, and  became famous for his determinant theory in mathematics and for solving a complex math problem called The Knight's Tour. His memoirs are invaluable to understanding math.

 35 

Louis-Jacques Thenard
1
Birthdate: May 4, 1777
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Aube, France
Died: June 21, 1857

French chemist Louis-Jacques Thenard was born to a farm worker and was educated on scholarships. He grew up to teach chemistry and also joined the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences as a foreign member. He is remembered for his discovery of hydrogen peroxide and Thenard’s blue, used in coloring porcelain.

 36 

François-Marie Raoult
1
Birthdate: May 10, 1830
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Fournes-en-Weppes, France
Died: April 1, 1901

Best remembered for his law on solutions, also known as the Raoult’s law, François-Marie Raoult taught at the University of Grenoble till his final days. His contributions to chemistry earned him recognitions such as the Commandeur de la Légion d'Honneur and the Davy Medal.

 37 

Nicolas Leblanc
1
Birthdate: December 6, 1742
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Issoudun, France
Died: January 16, 1806

Known as the inventor of the now-obsolete Leblanc process, Nicolas Leblanc was employed as a physician when the French Academy of Sciences offered a prize for developing a process, which would turn common salt into soda ash. Using sea salt and sulfuric acid as the raw materials, Nicolas Leblanc soon developed a technique that was widely followed during the 19th century.

 38 
André-Louis Debierne
(Discovery of actinium)

André-Louis Debierne
0
Birthdate: July 14, 1874
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: August 31, 1949

 39 
Jean de Noailles
(General and Chemist)

Jean de Noailles
1
Birthdate: October 26, 1739
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: October 20, 1824

French nobleman and scientist Jean-Louis-Paul-François de Noailles, 5th Duke of Noailles, a member of Académie des sciences, was a Knight of Golden Fleece. He became Duc d'Ayen following his grandfather's death, and Duc de Noailles following his father's death. He went into self-imposed exile in Switzerland until the Bourbon Restoration and then took the prestigious position of Peer of France.

Paul-Émile Lecoq de Boisbaudran
1
Birthdate: April 18, 1838
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Cognac, France
Died: May 28, 1912

Born into a noble French family of Cognac, Paul-Émile Lecoq de Boisbaudran was initially focused on running his family’s wine business. He later deviated to chemistry and became a significant figure of spectroscopy. His research led to the discoveries of the new elements gallium, samarium and dysprosium.

Jean-Baptiste Boussingault
1
Birthdate: February 2, 1801
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: May 11, 1887

Credited with establishing the first agricultural research station, French agricultural scientist and chemist Jean-Baptiste Boussingault made significant discoveries in agricultural science. Establishing the importance of nitrogen in plant growth, busting the myth that plants absorb the element from the atmosphere and proving that nitrogen content in soil increases after the cultivation of legumes are some of his contributions in this field.  

 42 

Pierre Louis Dulong
1
Birthdate: February 12, 1785
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Rouen, France
Died: July 19, 1838

French physicist and chemist Pierre Louis Dulong FRS FRSE is best-remembered for proposing the thermodynamic law called the Dulong–Petit law with fellow scientist Alexis Petit. Subjects of his scientific studies included the elasticity of steam, specific heats of gases and conduction of heat. He discovered nitrogen trichloride, worked on specific heat capacity, and expansion and refractive indices of gases.

 43 

Charles-Adolphe Wurtz
1
Birthdate: November 26, 1817
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Wolfisheim, France
Died: May 12, 1884

Born to a pastor, Charles-Adolphe Wurtz surprisingly studied medicine instead of theology. He later taught chemistry and became the first to chair the organic chemistry department at the Sorbonne. He is best remembered for his pathbreaking research on glycols and the synthesis of many significant compounds.

Antoine Jérôme Balard
1
Birthdate: September 30, 1802
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Montpellier, France
Died: April 30, 1876

While studying the salt waters of the Mediterranean, Antoine Jérôme Balard made a chance discovery of bromine, though Carl Jacob Löwig had discovered the element independently a year earlier. The French chemist also taught chemistry at the Sorbonne. Renowned chemist Louis Pasteur was one of his students.

 45 
Paul Heroult
(Scientist)

Paul Heroult
1
Birthdate: April 10, 1863
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Thury-Harcourt, France
Died: May 9, 1914

Best known for inventing the electric-arc furnace, Paul Heroult had also devised the electrolytic process for developing low-cost aluminium. Because of a similar work by Charles Martin Hall, the process came to be known as the Hall–Heroult process. He had also been a technical advisor to many companies.

 46 

Alexandre Brongniart
1
Birthdate: February 5, 1770
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: October 7, 1847

Best known for exploring the geology of the Tertiary Period, Alexandre Brongniart initially taught natural history and then became a professor of mineralogy. He also worked for the development of porcelain enameling in France. His other works include a classification of reptiles and the introduction of geologic dating.

Pierre-Joseph Pelletier
3
Birthdate: March 22, 1788
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Paris, France
Died: July 19, 1842

Known as the founder of the chemistry of alkaloids, Pierre-Joseph Pelletier studied and taught at Ecole de Pharmacie. Working with Joseph Bienaimé Caventou, he first isolated chlorophyll. Working further they established that alkaloids contain oxygen, hydrogen, carbon, and nitrogen and isolated brucine, cinchonine, colchicine, quinine, strychnine, and veratrine. Their discoveries were later used by chemists to develop many useful medicines.

Louis-Bernard Guyton de Morveau
1
Birthdate: January 4, 1737
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Dijon, France
Died: January 2, 1816

Louis-Bernard Guyton de Morveau initially followed in his father’s footsteps to become a lawyer. He later deviated to chemistry and set up a laboratory at home. He propagated the phlogiston theory and later laid down the first systematic method of naming chemical substances. He also earned the Legion of Honour.

 49 
Émile Meyerson
(Epistemologist)

Émile Meyerson
1
Birthdate: February 12, 1859
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Lublin, Poland
Died: December 2, 1933

Born in Poland, science philosopher Émile Meyerson studied at the University of Heidelberg and later settled in Paris. Initially a news editor, he later penned various significant scientific articles, such as On Explanation in the Sciences. He also wrote extensively on quantum theory and relativity theory.

Henri Étienne Sainte-Claire Deville
1
Birthdate: March 11, 1818
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Saint Thomas, U.S. Virgin Islands
Died: July 1, 1881

Born to a French diplomat, Henri Étienne Sainte-Claire Deville initially studied medicine but later deviated to chemistry. He taught chemistry at the Sorbonne and also found a way to produce large-scale metallic aluminium economically through what was known as the Deville process. He also worked extensively on platinum.