Louis de Broglie Biography

Louis de Broglie was a distinguished French physicist who made significant contribution to quantum theory. With this biography, read about his life, career, works and timeline

Quick Facts

Birthday: August 15, 1892

Nationality: French

Famous: Atheists Physicists

Died At Age: 94

Sun Sign: Leo

Also Known As: Louis-Victor-Pierre-Raymond de Broglie

Born in: Dieppe

Famous as: Physicist


father: Victor de Broglie

siblings: Maurice de Broglie

Died on: March 19, 1987

place of death: Louveciennes

More Facts

education: University of Paris

awards: 1929 - Nobel Prize in Physics
1938 - Max Planck Medal

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Louis de Broglie was an eminent French physicist who predicted the wave nature of electrons and suggested that all matter has wave properties. This concept forms the core of the quantum mechanics and for his groundbreaking contribution to quantum theory, de Broglie won the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1929. Born in an aristocratic family, Broglie along with his brother defied the family tradition of serving as diplomats by taking up science. Interestingly, Broglie’s first love was history but he was soon enticed by the mysteriousness of science and made his foray into the subject. While doing research for his PhD thesis he unearthed the wave nature of electrons, thus leading to the discovery of a new field of physics, wave mechanics. Throughout his life, he held important academic positions including seat 1 of the Académie française, and as the Perpetual Secretary of the French Academy of Sciences. He made major contribution in fostering international scientific co-operation. In his life, de Broglie was recognized by prestigious institutions and was awarded with highly-esteemed honours

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Childhood & Early Life
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  • In 1914, with the onset of World War I, he was conscripted into the military and offered his services in the development of radio communications. He was posted at Eiffel Tower, where he spent considerable time studying technical aspect of physics.
  • Post World War I, he resumed his studies of general physics. He began working with his brother, Maurice, in his lab. Maurice’s work involved X-Rays, and it was here that de Broglie got the idea of wave-particle duality.
  • In 1924, he submitted his thesis, Recherches sur la théorie des quanta (Research on the Theory of the Quanta) at the Faculty of Sciences at Paris University. Through it, he introduced his revolutionary theory of electron waves. He was awarded a doctorate degree.
  • His thesis presented a series of important findings that changed the way people perceived the physical phenomena on atomic scale. Popularly known as the de Broglie hypothesis today, his postulated that any moving particle or object has an associated wave. With this, he created a new field of physics, wave mechanics that unites the physics of energy and matter.
  • De Broglie's hypothesis was supported by Einstein and in 1927, electron diffraction experiments of Davisson and Germer confirmed that electrons have wave like properties.
  • After attaining his doctorate degree, he took up teaching position at the Sorbonne, where he served for two years. Meanwhile, he continued to publish original work.
  • In 1928, he was appointed to serve as the professor of theoretical physics at the then newly-founded Henri Poincare Institute in Paris. He served in the position until his retirement in 1962.
  • In 1933, he became a member of the Académie des sciences and served as the academy’s permanent secretary for mathematical science since 1942. Though he was offered to join Le Conseil de l'Union Catholique des Scientifiques Francais, he declined the same due to his atheist beliefs.
  • In October 1944, he was elected to the Académie française and was received by his brother Maurice. Subsequent year, he was appointed as the advisor to the French High Commission of Atomic Energy.
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  • Later in his career, he devoted himself to the study of the various extensions of wave mechanics. He published numerous notes and papers on the subject in addition to authoring twenty five books. In addition to scientific work, he penned about the philosophy of science, including the value of modern scientific discoveries.
  • His theory of wave mechanics was later refined by David Bohm in 1950s and has since been known as the De Broglie–Bohm theory.
  • Later in his life, he established a center for applied mechanics at the Henri Poincaré Institute, where research into optics, cybernetics, and atomic energy were carried out. Furthermore, he inspired the formation of the International Academy of Quantum Molecular Science and became an early member.
Major Works
  • Broglie’s developed the revolutionary theory of electron waves, which formed the basis of his research thesis paper. Based on the works of Max Planck and Albert Einstein, he worked on the wave-particle duality theory of matter and came out with the notion that every moving object or particle had an associated wave. His theory led to the creation of a new field in physics, wave mechanics. The theory was widely accepted after the experiment by Davisson and Germer proved that matter showed wave-like characteristics.
Awards & Achievements
  • In 1929, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physics for his research papers on the theory of electron waves. His revolutionary theory led to the creation of the new field of wave mechanics in physics. Same year, the Academei des Sciences bestowed him with the inaugural Henri Ponicare Medal.
  • In 1932, he was conferred with the Albert I of Monaco Prize.
  • In 1938, he received the Max Planck Medal. In the same year, he was made a Fellow of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences.
  • In 1944, he was made Fellow of the Academie francaise and in 1953 was made Fellow of the Royal Society.
  • In 1952, UNESCO awarded him the inaugural Kalinga Prize for popularizing scientific knowledge amongst layman.
  • In 1956, he received the Gold Medal of the French National Scientific Research Centre.
  • In 1961, he received the title of the Knight of the Grand Cross in the French Legion d’honneur and is an Officer of the Order of Leopold in Belgium.
  • He has received honorary doctorates from various prestigious and established universities around the globe including the Universities of Warsaw, Bucharest, Athens, Laussane, Quebec and Brussels. Additionally, he is a member of eighteen foreign academies in Europe, India and United States.
Personal Life & Legacy
  • Broglie lived the life of a bachelor all through.
  • In 1960, after the death of his older brother, Maurice, he succeeded as the 7th duc de Broglie, as Maurice left without any heir.
  • He breathed his last on March 19, 1987 in Louveciennes, France. He was 94 years old. After his death, he was succeeded as Duke by a distant cousin, Victor-François, 8th duc de Broglie.

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