Biography of Augustin Jean Fresnel

Augustin Jean Fresnel is a famous French physicist and engineer who made a great contribution to the development of the wave theory of light.

Childhood and early years

Augustin Jean Fresnel was born May 10, 1788 in the family of Jacques Fresnel and Augustine Merimee. His father was an architect.

As a child, studying was given to the boy hard, and at the age of 8 he could not even read. He started his academic education in Kana Central School, after which he entered the Polytechnic School, and afterwards to the National School of Bridges and Roads, studying the craft of a civil engineer.

At the end of training, Frenel is working as a military engineer for a while, but, very soon, he will be dismissed from the ranks of the army for supporting the Bourbons.


Research in the field of optics Frenel begins in 1814 with the help of the devices of his own invention, he conducts a series of experiments and observations of diffraction and interference fringes, concluding that the “wave theory of light” put forward by the English physicist Thomas Jung is correct.

He opened his discoveries in 1815 to the French Academy of Sciences, but although his work attracted a certain interest of the scientific world, the work was never published.

In the same year, Fresnel enlists in the service of an engineer in the city of Paris, where almost all his further life will pass. For the work on diffraction of light, written in 1818, Fresnel receives the award and recognition of the Paris Academy of Sciences.

One of the first, Fresnel starts creating special lenses, which are replaced in the lighthouses of mirrors, increasing their functionality.

In 1817, Frenell discovered a...

circular polarization of light, proving that light, in fact, is a transverse wave, not a longitudinal one.

Since 1819, Fresnel is appointed responsible for ensuring the operational state of the lighthouses, and by 1821 he already proves mathematically that the polarization can only be explained by the fact that the light wave is transverse and completely not subjected to longitudinal vibrations.

For his scientific innovations in 1823, Fresnel was elected a member of the French Academy of Sciences.

Later, as early as 1825, he would become a foreign member of the Royal Society in London. For his invaluable contribution to the development of science, in 1827 Fresnel was awarded the Rumford Medal.

Personal life and heritage

Fresnel grew up in a believing family. Many of his relatives were followers of the Catholic priest Cornelius Otto Jansen and in all adhered to his ideology, called “Jansenist values.”

Frenel from childhood was distinguished by poor health and, already in adulthood, often suffered from fatigue due to his hard work. But, despite this, all his life he did not leave experiments and studies, wholeheartedly devoting himself to his works.

Fresnel died on July 14, 1827 after a short period of tuberculosis. The name of Augustin Jean Fresnel is immortalized in the list on the Eiffel Tower, along with 72 names of other major scientists in France.

In his honor was named the site on the Moon: the “Fresnel Gorge” and the nearby “Fresnel Upland”.

Many of the manuscripts of Augustin-Jean Fresnel were included in the collection entitled “Collection of the works of Augustin Fresnel, Henry de Senarmon, Emile Verde and Leonor Fresnel.”

Basic work

“Scientific article on the topic of diffraction of light”

“On the mutual influence of the rays of polarized light”

Biography of Augustin Jean Fresnel