Gabriel Lippmann


Gabriel Lippmann

Photo from the Nobel Foundation archive.

Gabriel Lippmann
The Nobel Prize in Physics 1908

Born: 16 August 1845, Hollerich, Luxembourg

Died: 13 July 1921

Affiliation at the time of the award: Sorbonne University, Paris, France

Prize motivation: “for his method of reproducing colours photographically based on the phenomenon of interference”

Prize share: 1/1


During the 19th century methods were developed for producing black-and-white photographs with the help of light-sensitive silver halides. In the 1890s Gabriel Lippmann discovered a method for color photography based on interference—interaction between light waves. Using a mirror, light was reflected through a photographic emulsion in which the interference phenomenon produces a number of blackened layers. The distance between the layers corresponds to certain wavelengths and can be transmuted into a color image. The method never came into widespread usage, but lived on as a physics experiment.

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