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Louis Néel

Louis Néel
Néel in 1970
Born Louis Eugène Félix Néel
(1904-11-22)22 November 1904
Lyon, France
Died 17 November 2000(2000-11-17) (aged 95)
Fields Solid-state physics
Institutions CNRS, Grenoble
Alma mater École Normale Supérieure and University of Strasbourg
Known for
Notable awards

Louis Eugène Félix Néel ForMemRS (22 November 1904 – 17 November 2000) was a French physicist born in Lyon.[1] He studied at the Lycée du Parc in Lyon and was accepted at the École Normale Supérieure in Paris. He obtained the degree of Doctor of Science at the University of Strasbourg. He was corecipient (with the Swedish astrophysicist Hannes Alfvén) of the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1970 for his pioneering studies of the magnetic properties of solids.[3] His contributions to solid state physics have found numerous useful applications, particularly in the development of improved computer memory units. About 1930 he suggested that a new form of magnetic behavior might exist; called antiferromagnetism, as opposed to ferromagnetism. Above a certain temperature (the Néel temperature) this behaviour stops. Néel pointed out (1947) that materials could also exist showing ferrimagnetism. Néel has also given an explanation of the weak magnetism of certain rocks, making possible the study of the history of Earth's magnetic field.[4][5][6][7][8][9][10][11][12]

Awards and honours

Néel received numerous awards and honours for his work including:


  • Hughes Prize of the Académie des sciences (1935)
  • Félix Robin Prize of the Société française de physique (1938)
  • André Blondel Medal (1948)
  • Grand prix du conseil de l’association « Au service de la pensée française » (1949)
  • Holweck Prize (1952)
  • Prize of the Three Physicists (1963)
  • Gold Medal of CNRS (1965)
  • Elected Foreign Member of the Royal Society (ForMemRS) in 1966[1]
  • Nobel Prize in Physics (1970)
  • Great Gold Medal of l’Électronique (1971)
  • Great Gold Medal of the Société d’encouragement pour la recherche et l’invention (1973)

Owing to his involvement in national defense, particularly through research in the protection of warships by demagnetization against magnetic mines, he received numerous distinctions:

  • Légion d'honneur:
    • Knight (for exceptional military services) (1940)
    • Officer (1951)
    • Commander(1958)
    • Grand Officier de la Légion d'honneur (1966)
    • Grand Cross (1974)
  • Croix de Guerre with Palms (1940)
  • Commander of the Ordre des Palmes Académiques (1957)
  • Knight of the Social Order of Merit (1963)
  • Grand Cross of the National Order of Merit (1972)

The Louis Néel Medal - awarded annually by the European Geophysical Society is named in Néels honour.


  1. ^ a b c Friedel, J.; Averbuch, P. (1 December 2003). "Louis Eugène Félix Néel. 22 November 1904 – 17 November 2000". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society 49: 367–384.  
  2. ^ "The Nobel Prize in Physics 1970". The Nobel Foundation. Retrieved 20 June 2012. 
  3. ^ Néel, L. (3 December 1971). "Magnetism and Local Molecular Field". Science 174 (4013): 985–992.  
  4. ^ Néel, Louis (1 April 1955). "Some theoretical aspects of rock-magnetism". Advances in Physics 4 (14): 191–243.  
  5. ^ Barbara, B.; Lacroix, Claudine (2000). "Retrospective in Science: Louis Neel (1904–2000)". Science 291 (5506): 1000.  
  6. ^ Coey, Michael (2001). "Obituary: Louis Néel (1904–2000)". Nature 409 (6818): 302–302.  
  7. ^ Coey, J. M. D. (2003). "Louis Néel: Retrospective (invited)". Journal of Applied Physics 93 (10): 8224–8229.  
  8. ^ Dunlop, David J. (2003). "Partial thermoremanent magnetization: Louis Néel’s legacy in rock magnetism (invited)". Journal of Applied Physics 93 (10): 8236–8240.  
  9. ^ "Louis Néel – Biography". Nobel Lectures, Physics 1963–1970. Elsevier Publishing Company. 
  10. ^ Néel, Louis (1991). Un siècle de physique. Paris: Jacob.  
  11. ^ "Louis Néel, un siècle de science à Grenoble". 2004. Retrieved 27 October 2011. 
  12. ^ Kurti, Nicholas, ed. (1988). Selected works of Louis Néel. New York: Gordon and Breach.  
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