Néel, Louis Eugène Félix

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Néel, Louis Eugène Félix

Néel, Louis Eugène Félix, 1904–2000, French physicist, Ph.D. Univ. of Strasbourg, 1932. He was a professor at the Univ. of Strasbourg from 1932 to 1945, when he joined the faculty at the Univ. of Grenoble; he retired there in 1976. Néel was awarded the 1970 Nobel Prize in Physics with Hannes Alfvén for his research on antiferromagnetism, in which in which the magnetic moments of the component atoms are equal and parallel but in opposite directions, and on ferrimagnetism, in which the magnetic moments are unequal. The work had important applications in solid-state physics, especially in the development of improved computer memory.
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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Néel, Louis Eugène Félix


Born Nov. 22, 1904, in Lyon. French physicist. Member of the Paris Academy of Sciences (1953). Foreign member of the Academy of Sciences of the USSR (1958).

In 1928, Néel graduated from the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris. He was a professor at the university in Strasbourg from 1937 to 1945. In 1945 he became a professor at the university in Grenoble. He also became director of the Center for Nuclear Research in Grenoble in 1957 and director of the Polytechnic Institute in 1958.

Néel’s main works have been on the theory of magnetism. In 1932 he proposed, independently of L. D. Landau, the hypothesis of the existence of antiferromagnetic substances (antiferromagnets) and introduced the concept of sublattices to describe the magnetic structure of these antiferromagnets. In 1936 he predicted the strong anisotropy of the magnetic properties of antiferromagnets and, in particular, the inversion of magnetic sublattices in a strong magnetic field. He explained the basic properties of ferrites by applying the theory of the molecular field to the model of magnetic sublattices. The temperature of the transition to the antiferromagnetic state is named after him (the Néel point). Néel also investigated such problems as the properties of systems of small single-domain particles, supermagnetism, and the influence of the surface on anisotropy.

Néel is a foreign member of many academies of sciences, including those of Great Britain, the Netherlands, and the Federal Republic of Germany, and he is also a member of various world scientific societies. He was president of the International Union of Pure and Applied Physics from 1964 to 1966. Néel received a Nobel Prize in 1970.


Borovik-Romanov, A. S. “Laureaty Nobelevskoi premii 1970 g. V oblasti fiziki—L. Neel’.” Priroda, no. 2, 1971.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.