Kastler, Alfred

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Kastler, Alfred,

1902–84, German-born French physicist, Ph.D. Univ. of Bordeaux, 1936. Kastler was a lecturer at Clermont-Ferrand Univ. (1936–38), professor at the Univ. of Bordeaux (1938–41), professor at the École Normale Supérieure (1941–68), and director of research at the French National Center for Scientific Research (1968–72). He received the 1966 Nobel Prize in Physics for the discovery and development of two methods—double resonance and optical pumping—for using light to manipulate and study the energy levels of electrons in atoms. Both of these techniques were improvements on earlier methods, allowing for more detailed studies of the structure of atoms.

Kastler, Alfred


Born May 3, 1902, in Guebwiller. French physicist. Member of the Paris Academy of Sciences (1964).

In 1924, Kastler graduated from the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris. In 1941 he became a professor there. Beginning in 1945 he was a professor at the Sorbonne. In 1958 he became director of the Atomic Clock Laboratory and in 1968, director of research at the National Center of Scientific Research. Between 1930 and 1950, Kastler studied fluorescence and combination scattering in gases and crystals. In 1950, working with J. Brossel, he observed the phenomenon of magnetic resonance in the radio frequency band by using the optical pumping method that he had discovered and worked out in detail. Kastler was awarded a Nobel Prize in 1966.


Orientierung von Atomkernen durch optisches Pumpen. Mosbach, 1961. In Russian translation:
“Opticheskie metody izucheniia nizkochastotnykh rezonansov (Nobe-levskaia lektsiia po fizike 1966).” Uspekhi fizicheskikh nauk, 1967, vol. 93, issue 1, p. 5.
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