Famous French Physicists

European nations such as France have undoubtedly contributed in a great way towards the evolution of science over the years. Many physicists and researchers from the nation have been applauded by the world for their achievements in the field of science. Some of the French Physicists, such as Alexandre-Edmond Becquerel had struck gold even in the early years of the 20th century with the phenomenal discovery of the ‘Photovoltaic effect’, the principle behind the functioning of the solar cell. The world-renowned physicist Madame Curie, who became a citizen of France at a later part of her life, also made the country proud by bagging the prestigious ‘Nobel’ prize for her work related to radioactivity. The contributions of most of these eminent individuals range from magnetism and electricity to optics, and are one of the prime reasons behind the technological sophistication that we see today. Explore this space for the biographies of some of the most famous French physicists who have left an indelible mark on the world of science and technology. Read on and find out all about their life stories, timelines and also acquaint yourself with a few interesting facts & trivia related to their lives.

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

Marie Curie
9
Famous As: First woman to win a Nobel Prize
Birthdate: November 7, 1867
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Nationality: French, Polish
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 Blaise Pascal

Blaise Pascal
2
Famous As: French Mathematician, Physicist, Inventor, Writer and Catholic Philosopher
Birthdate: June 19, 1623
Sun Sign: Gemini
Nationality: French
Died: August 19, 1662

Blaise Pascal was a French physicist, mathematician, philosopher, and inventor. A child prodigy, Pascal's work on projective geometry, at the age of 16 is commendable. He is one of the earliest inventors of the mechanical calculator, which he did when he was still a teenager. His work on probability theory influenced the development of social science and modern economics.

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 3 Pierre Curie

Pierre Curie
5
Famous As: Nobel Laureate in Physics
Birthdate: May 15, 1859
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: French
Died: April 19, 1906

A pioneer in crystallography, radioactivity, piezoelectricity, and magnetism, Pierre Curie was a French physicist who won the Nobel Prize in Physics along with Henri Becquerel and Marie Curie. Despite being an atheist, Pierre Curie was fascinated by spiritualism as he believed that spiritual questions deal with physics. 

 4 Henri Becquerel

Henri Becquerel
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Famous As: Physicist, Discoverer of Radioactivity
Birthdate: December 15, 1852
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Nationality: French
Died: August 25, 1908

Nobel Prize-winning physicist Henri Becquerel is known for his chance discovery of spontaneous radioactivity. Born into a family of scientists, Becquerel had been an engineer and a physics professor earlier. Marie Curie, who shared the Nobel with him and her husband, Pierre, was one of his doctoral students.

 5 Andre Marie Ampere

Andre Marie Ampere
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Famous As: Physicist
Birthdate: January 20, 1775
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Nationality: French
Died: June 10, 1836

Andre Marie Ampere was a French physicist and mathematician. He is best known for being one of the founders of the science of classical electromagnetism. He was a professor at the École Polytechnique and the Collège de France and a member of the French Academy of Sciences. The base SI unit of electric current, the ampere, is named after him. 

 6 Louis de Broglie

Louis de Broglie
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Famous As: Physicist
Birthdate: August 15, 1892
Sun Sign: Leo
Nationality: French
Died: March 19, 1987

Louis de Broglie was a French aristocrat and physicist who made important contributions to quantum theory. His de Broglie hypothesis, which suggests that all matter has wave properties, is one of the most important features in the theory of quantum mechanics. In 1929, de Broglie was honored with the Nobel Prize for Physics for his work.

 7 Joseph Fourier

Joseph Fourier
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Famous As: Mathematician & Physicist
Birthdate: March 21, 1768
Sun Sign: Aries
Nationality: French
Died: May 16, 1830

Joseph Fourier was a French physicist and mathematician best remembered for commencing the investigation of the Fourier series, which is used widely to solve problems of heat transfer and vibrations. Fourier's law of conduction and Fourier transform are named in his honor. Fourier is also said to have discovered the greenhouse effect.

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 8 Charles-Augustin de Coulomb

Charles-Augustin de Coulomb
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Famous As: Physicist
Birthdate: June 14, 1736
Sun Sign: Gemini
Nationality: French
Died: August 23, 1806

 9 Frédéric Joliot-Curie

Frédéric Joliot-Curie
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Famous As: Physicist
Birthdate: March 19, 1900
Sun Sign: Pisces
Nationality: French
Died: August 14, 1958

Frédéric Joliot-Curie was a French physicist whose discovery of artificial radioactivity earned him the 1935 Nobel Prize in Chemistry, which was jointly awarded to Frédéric and his wife Irène Joliot-Curie. Along with his wife, Frédéric is credited with founding the Orsay Faculty of Sciences, a physics and mathematics school within Paris-Saclay University. He had also won the Stalin Peace Prize.

 10 Cédric Villani

Cédric Villani
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Famous As: Mathematician, Physicist, University teacher
Birthdate: October 5, 1973
Sun Sign: Libra
Nationality: French

 11 Charles Augustin De Coulomb

Charles Augustin De Coulomb
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Famous As: French physicist
Birthdate: June 14, 1736
Sun Sign: Gemini
Nationality: French
Died: August 23, 1806

French physicist Charles Augustin De Coulomb, remembered for laying down the Coulomb’s law, had previously been a military engineer in the West Indies. At the onset of the French Revolution, Coulomb, struggling with failing health, devoted himself to research. The unit of electric charge, coulomb, was named after him.

 12 Sadi Carnot

Sadi Carnot
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Famous As: Physicist and Scientist
Birthdate: June 1, 1796
Sun Sign: Gemini
Nationality: French
Died: August 24, 1832

Son of French Revolutionary leader and mathematician Lazare Carnot, Sadi Carnot was an engineer in the French army. He later laid down the Carnot cycle of heat engines. Much of his works were buried with him when he died of cholera at 36, due to the contagiousness of the disease.

 13 Joseph Louis Gay-Lussac

Joseph Louis Gay-Lussac
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Famous As: Chemist and Physicist
Birthdate: December 6, 1778
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Nationality: French
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.

 14 Jean Le Rond d’Alembert

Jean Le Rond d’Alembert
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Famous As: Mathematician, Physicist, Philosopher And Musical Intellectual
Birthdate: November 16, 1717
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Nationality: French
Died: October 29, 1783

Jean le Rond d'Alembert was a French mathematician, physicist, philosopher, and music theorist. He is credited with coming up with d'Alembert's formula, a solution to the one-dimensional wave equation, which is named after him. His life and work inspired Andrew Crumey's 1996 novel, D'Alembert's Principle.

 15 Paul Langevin

Paul Langevin
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Famous As: Physicist, Professor, Chemist, Philosopher of science, Educationist, Non-fiction writer
Birthdate: January 23, 1872
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Nationality: French
Died: December 19, 1946

 16 Siméon Denis Poisson

Siméon Denis Poisson
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Famous As: Mathematician
Birthdate: June 21, 1781
Sun Sign: Gemini
Nationality: French
Died: April 25, 1840

 17 Jacques Charles

Jacques Charles
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Famous As: Physicist, Chemist, Inventor, Balloonist, Mathematician
Birthdate: November 12, 1746
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Nationality: French
Died: April 7, 1823

 18 Augustin-Jean Fresnel

Augustin-Jean Fresnel
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Famous As: Physicist
Birthdate: May 10, 1788
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: French
Died: July 14, 1827

Augustin-Jean Fresne, best remembered for his pioneering research on the wave theory of light, was a sickly child and was mostly homeschooled in his early days. The French physicist was a civil engineer, too. Unfortunately, most of his scientific work failed to receive public attention during his lifetime.

 19 François Arago

François Arago
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Famous As: Astronomer, Mathematician, Physicist, Politician, Scientist, University teacher
Birthdate: February 26, 1786
Sun Sign: Pisces
Nationality: Spanish, French
Died: October 2, 1853

 20 Léon Foucault

Léon Foucault
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Famous As: Physicist
Birthdate: September 18, 1819
Sun Sign: Virgo
Nationality: French
Died: February 11, 1868

Léon Foucault was a French physicist remembered for his presentation of the Foucault pendulum. Foucault is credited with measuring the speed of light and discovering eddy currents. He is also credited with coining the term gyroscope. Considered one of the most important physicists from France, Foucault's name is among the 72 names etched on the famous Eiffel Tower in Paris.

 21 Lazare Carnot

Lazare Carnot
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Famous As: Mathematician, Politician, Engineer, Officer, Physicist
Birthdate: May 13, 1753
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: French
Died: August 2, 1823

 22 Marin Mersenne

Marin Mersenne
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Famous As: Philosopher, Theologian, Mathematician, Musicologist, Music theorist, Physicist
Birthdate: September 8, 1588
Sun Sign: Virgo
Nationality: French
Died: September 1, 1648

 23 Conrad Schlumberger

Conrad Schlumberger
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Famous As: Geophysicist
Birthdate: October 2, 1878
Sun Sign: Libra
Nationality: German, French
Died: May 9, 1936

 24 Gabriel Lippmann

Gabriel Lippmann
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Famous As: Physicist & Nobel Laureate
Birthdate: August 16, 1845
Sun Sign: Leo
Nationality: French
Died: July 13, 1921

Gabriel Lippmann was a Franco-Luxembourgish inventor and physicist who won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1908. He is also remembered for inventing an astronomical tool called the coelostat. Lippmann was an influential physicist from Luxembourg; an Institute for scientific research in Luxembourg City was named after him. The Institute was later renamed Luxembourg Institute for Science and Technology (LIST). 

 25 Serge Haroche

Serge Haroche
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Famous As: Physicist, University teacher
Birthdate: September 11, 1944
Sun Sign: Virgo
Nationality: French, Moroccan

 26 Claude Cohen-Tannoudji

Claude Cohen-Tannoudji
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Famous As: Physicist
Birthdate: April 1, 1933
Sun Sign: Aries
Nationality: French

Born to Jewish parents in Algeria, Nobel Prize-winning French physicist Claude Cohen-Tannoudji later moved to Paris. Best known for his research on using laser light to cool atoms to low temperatures at which they can be studied better, he now works at the École Normale Supérieure.

 27 Alain Aspect

Alain Aspect
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Famous As: Physicist
Birthdate: June 15, 1947
Sun Sign: Gemini
Nationality: French

 28 Claude-Louis Navier

Claude-Louis Navier
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Famous As: physicist, economist, mathematician, engineer of roads and bridges
Birthdate: February 10, 1785
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Nationality: French
Died: August 21, 1836

 29 Pierre Duhem

Pierre Duhem
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Famous As: Historian
Birthdate: June 9, 1861
Sun Sign: Gemini
Nationality: French
Died: September 14, 1916

 30 Jean Baptiste Perrin

Jean Baptiste Perrin
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Famous As: Physicist
Birthdate: September 30, 1870
Sun Sign: Libra
Nationality: French
Died: April 17, 1942

 31 Pierre-Gilles de Gennes

Pierre Gilles de Gennes
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Famous As: Physicist
Birthdate: October 24, 1932
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Nationality: French
Died: May 18, 2007

Pierre-Gilles de Gennes was a French physicist who was awarded the Nobel Prize in physics in 1991. In the initial years of his career, he worked mainly on neutron scattering and magnetism. In his later years, he worked on liquid crystals, interfacial problems, and granular materials. Besides the Nobel Prize, he was also the recipient of the prestigious Lorentz Medal.

 32 Pierre Louis Maupertuis

Pierre Louis Maupertuis
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Famous As: Mathematician
Birthdate: September 28, 1698
Sun Sign: Libra
Nationality: French
Died: July 27, 1759

 33 Georges Charpak

Georges Charpak
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Famous As: Physicist
Birthdate: August 1, 1924
Sun Sign: Leo
Nationality: French, Polish, Ukrainian
Died: September 29, 2010

 34 Peter Grünberg

Peter Grünberg
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Famous As: Physicist, University teacher
Birthdate: May 18, 1939
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: Czech, German, French

 35 Guillaume Amontons

Guillaume Amontons
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Famous As: Physicist
Birthdate: August 31, 1663
Sun Sign: Virgo
Nationality: French
Died: October 11, 1705

 36 Jean-Baptiste Biot

Jean-Baptiste Biot
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Famous As: Mathematician, Physicist, Astronomer, Civil engineer, Engineer, Professor
Birthdate: April 21, 1774
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: French
Died: February 3, 1862

 37 Albert Fert

Albert Fert
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Famous As: Physicist, University teacher
Birthdate: March 7, 1938
Sun Sign: Pisces
Nationality: French

 38 Georges Claude

Georges Claude
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Famous As: Chemist, Physicist, Engineer, Inventor
Birthdate: September 24, 1870
Sun Sign: Libra
Nationality: French
Died: May 23, 1960

 39 Jean Léonard Marie Poiseuille

Jean Léonard Marie Poiseuille
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Famous As: Physicist
Birthdate: April 22, 1797
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: French
Died: December 26, 1869

 40 Didier Sornette

Didier Sornette
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Famous As: Physicist, Economist
Birthdate: June 25, 1957
Sun Sign: Cancer
Nationality: French

 41 Hippolyte Fizeau

Hippolyte Fizeau
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Famous As: Physicist, Astronomer
Birthdate: September 23, 1819
Sun Sign: Virgo
Nationality: French
Died: September 18, 1896

 42 Gaspard-Gustave de Coriolis

Gaspard-Gustave de Coriolis
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Famous As: Mathematician
Birthdate: May 21, 1792
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: French
Died: September 19, 1843

 43 Louis Néel

Louis Eugène Félix Néel
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Famous As: Physicist
Birthdate: November 22, 1904
Sun Sign: Scorpio
Nationality: French
Died: November 17, 2000

 44 Alfred Kastler

Alfred Kastler
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Famous As: Physicist
Birthdate: May 3, 1902
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: French
Died: January 7, 1984

 45 Gaston Planté

Gaston Planté
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Famous As: Physicist
Birthdate: April 22, 1834
Sun Sign: Taurus
Nationality: French
Died: May 21, 1889

 46 Jean Charles Athanase Peltier

Jean Charles Athanase Peltier
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Famous As: Physicist
Birthdate: February 22, 1785
Sun Sign: Pisces
Nationality: French
Died: October 27, 1845

 47 Louis-Sébastien Lenormand

Louis-Sébastien Lenormand
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Famous As: Chemist
Birthdate: May 25, 1757
Sun Sign: Gemini
Nationality: French
Died: April 4, 1837

 48 Edme Mariotte

Edme Mariotte
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Famous As: Physicist
Birthdate: 1620 AD
Nationality: French
Died: May 12, 1684

 49 Felix Savart

Felix Savart
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Birthdate: June 30, 1791
Sun Sign: Cancer
Nationality: French
Died: March 16, 1841

 50 Henri-Victor Regnault

Henri-Victor Regnault
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Famous As: Chemist
Birthdate: July 21, 1810
Sun Sign: Cancer
Nationality: German, French
Died: January 19, 1878