Alfred Kastler

Alfred Kastler (French: [kastlɛʁ]; 3 May 1902 – 7 January 1984) was a French physicist, and Nobel Prize laureate.[2]

Alfred Kastler
Alfred Kastler
Born3 May 1902
Died7 January 1984 (aged 81)
Alma materÉcole Normale Supérieure, University of Paris[1]
Known forOptical pumping technique
AwardsHolweck Prize (1954), CNRS Gold medal (1964), Nobel Prize for Physics (1966)
Scientific career
Doctoral advisorPierre Daure
Doctoral studentsClaude Cohen Tannoudji


Kastler was born in Guebwiller (Alsace, German Empire) and later attended the Lycée Bartholdi in Colmar, Alsace, and École Normale Supérieure in Paris in 1921. After his studies, in 1926 he began teaching physics at the Lycée of Mulhouse, and then taught at the University of Bordeaux, where he was a university professor until 1941. Georges Bruhat asked him to come back to the École Normale Supérieure, where he finally obtained a chair in 1952.

Collaborating with Jean Brossel, he researched quantum mechanics, the interaction between light and atoms, and spectroscopy. Kastler, working on combination of optical resonance and magnetic resonance, developed the technique of "optical pumping". Those works led to the completion of the theory of lasers and masers.

He won the Nobel Prize in Physics in 1966 "for the discovery and development of optical methods for studying Hertzian resonances in atoms".

He was president of the board of the Institut d'optique théorique et appliquée and served as the first chairman of the non-governmental organization (NGO) Action Against Hunger.

Kastler also wrote poetry (in German). In 1971 he published Europe, ma patrie: Deutsche Lieder eines französischen Europäers (i.e. Europe, my fatherland: German songs of a French European).

In 1978 he became foreign member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences.[3]

In 1979, Kastler was awarded the Wilhelm Exner Medal.[4]

Laboratoire Kastler-Brossel

Alfred Kastler French physicist
Kastler ca. 1967

Professor Kastler spent most of his research career at the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris where he started after the war with his student, Jean Brossel a small research group on spectroscopy.

Over the forty years that followed, this group has trained many of young physicists and had a significant impact on the development of the science of atomic physics in France. The Laboratoire de Spectroscopie hertzienne has then been renamed Laboratoire Kastler-Brossel in 1994 and has got a part of its laboratory in Université Pierre et Marie Curie mainly at the École Normale Supérieure.

Professor Kastler died on 7 January 1984, in Bandol, France.[5]


  1. ^ At the time, the ENS was part of the University of Paris according to the decree of 10 November 1903.
  2. ^ Happer, William (May 1984). "Obituary: Alfred Kastler". Physics Today. 37 (5): 101–102. Bibcode:1984PhT....37e.101H. doi:10.1063/1.2916219.
  3. ^ "A.H.F. Kastler (1902 - 1984)". Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. Retrieved 19 July 2015.
  4. ^ Editor, ÖGV. (2015). Wilhelm Exner Medal. Austrian Trade Association. ÖGV. Austria.
  5. ^ Sullivan, Walter (8 January 1984). "Dr. Alfred Kastler, 81, Nobel Prize-Winner, Dies". The New York Times. Retrieved 2010-11-06.


External links

1902 in France

Events from the year 1902 in France.

Acoustic paramagnetic resonance

Acoustic paramagnetic resonance (APR) is a phenomenon of resonant absorption of sound by a system of magnetic particles placed in an external magnetic field. It occurs when the energy of the sound wave quantum becomes equal to the splitting of the energy levels of the particles, the splitting being induced by the magnetic field. APR is a variation of electron paramagnetic resonance (EPR) where the acoustic rather than electromagnetic waves are absorbed by the studied sample. APR was theoretically predicted in 1952, independently by Semen Altshuler and Alfred Kastler, and was experimentally observed by W. G. Proctor and W. H. Tanttila in 1955.

Action Against Hunger

Action Against Hunger (or Action Contre La Faim (ACF) in French) is a global humanitarian organization which originated in France and is committed to ending world hunger. The organization helps malnourished children and provides communities with access to safe water and sustainable solutions to hunger.

In 2014, Action Against Hunger worked in 49 different countries around the world with more than 6,000 employees and volunteers helping 13.6 million people in need.Established in 1979 by a group of French doctors, scientists, and writers. Nobel Prize-winning physicist Alfred Kastler served as the organization's first chairman.

The group initially provided assistance to Afghan refugees in Pakistan, famine-stricken Ugandan communities, and Cambodian refugees in Thailand. It expanded to address additional humanitarian concerns in Africa, the Middle East, Southeast Asia, the Balkans and elsewhere during the 1980s and 1990s. Action Against Hunger's Scientific Committee pioneered the therapeutic milk formula (F100), now used by all major humanitarian aid organizations to treat acute malnutrition. As a result, the global mortality rate of severely malnourished children under the age of five has been reduced from 25% to 5%. A few years later, therapeutic milk was repackaged as ready-to-use therapeutic foods (RUTFs), a peanut-based paste packaged like a power bar. These bars allow for the treatment of malnutrition at home, and do not require any preparation or refrigeration.

The international network currently has headquarters in five countries – France, Spain, the United States, Canada, and the UK. Its four main areas of work include nutrition, food security, water and sanitation, and advocacy.integrated approach with various sectors of intervention:

Nutrition and Health

Water, Sanitation and Hygiene

Food Security & Livelihoods

Emergency Response

Claude Cohen-Tannoudji

Claude Cohen-Tannoudji (born 1 April 1933) is a French physicist. He shared the 1997 Nobel Prize in Physics with Steven Chu and William Daniel Phillips for research in methods of laser cooling and trapping atoms. Currently he is still an active researcher, working at the École Normale Supérieure in Paris.


Dourdan is a commune in the Essonne department in Île-de-France in northern France. General Auguste Jubé de La Perelle (1765–1824) died in Dourdan.

It is located in the metropolitan area of Paris.


EUCMOS is the abbreviation of the conference series "European Congress on Molecular Spectroscopy".

Etablissement Notre-Dame-de-la-Compassion

Etablissement Notre-Dame-de-la-Compassion is a Catholic private school institution in Val-d'Oise, France, in the Paris metropolitan area. It includes:

Lycée Privé Catholique Notre-Dame-de-la-Compassion (also including a junior high school or collège) in Pontoise

Lycée Notre-Dame de la Compassion Elisabeth Molé (technological and vocational high school) in Jouy-le-MoutierLycée Elisabeth Molé opened in January 2012.

Georges Bruhat

Georges Bruhat (* 21 December 1887 in Besançon; † 1 January 1945 in Sachsenhausen concentration camp) was a French Physicist.

Jean Brossel

Jean Brossel (15 August 1918 – 4 February 2003) was a French physicist known for his work on quantum optics. He was born and died in Périgueux.

Brossel passed the entrance exam for l'École normale supérieure (ENS) 1938, but then was for two years a soldier. From 1941 to 1945 he studied at the ENS under Alfred Kastler and then went to the group of Samuel Tolansky in Manchester spending the years 1945–1948 and in 1948 to Francis Bitter at MIT. In 1951 for work done at MIT, Brossel received his PhD in Paris under Kastler with a thesis on the application of double resonance methods (developed by Kastler and him) to the study of the excited states of Hg. After completing his PhD, Brossel was attaché des recherches and then Maître de Recherches at CNRS. In 1955 he became a professor at the Faculté des Sciences in Paris (and later a professor at the University of Pierre and Marie Curie (Universitie Paris VI)). From 1973 to 1985 he was Director of the Physics Faculty of ENS. In 1985 he retired and went to the University of Paris.

Brossel is known for his work on optical pumping with Alfred Kastler, with whom he founded in 1951 the spectroscopic laboratory at ENS (Laboratoire de Spectroscopie Hertzienne), which now is called the Laboratoire Kastler-Brossel. Brossel was the co-director and then in 1972 after Kastler's resignation the director.

In his hometown of Périgueux a square is named after him.

In 1960 Brossel won the Holweck Prize and in 1977 he was elected a member of l'Académie des sciences, whose Prix Ampère he received in 1974. In 1984 he received the gold medal of CNRS.


Kastler is a surname. Notable people with the surname include:

Alfred Kastler (1902–1984), French physicist and Nobel Prize laureate

Daniel Kastler (1926– 2015) French theoretical physicist

Henri Kastler (1863–1957), French philatelist

Martin Kastler (born 1974), German politician and member of the European Parliament

Kastler-Brossel Laboratory

The Kastler–Brossel Laboratory, located in Paris, France, is a research laboratory specializing in fundamental physics of quantum systems. Founded in 1951 by Alfred Kastler and Jean Brossel, it is a joint research unit operated by the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS), the École normale supérieure, the Pierre-and-Marie-Curie University and the Collège de France.

Lycée Alfred Kastler

Lycée Alfred Kastler may refer to:

Lycée Alfred Kastler de Cergy-Pontoise

Lycée Alfred Kastler - Dourdan

Lycée Alfred Kastler - Guebwiller

Lycée Alfred Kastler - Talence

Lycée Alfred Kastler (Dourdan)

Lycée Alfred Kastler is a senior high school in Dourdan, Essonne, France, in the Paris metropolitan area.

Lycée Alfred Kastler de Cergy-Pontoise

Lycée Alfred Kastler de Cergy-Pontoise is a senior high school located in Pontoise, Val-d'Oise, France, in the Paris metropolitan area, serving both Pontoise and Cergy.It opened on 15 September 1978 as the Lycée de Cergy Ville Nouvelle and it was renamed after Alfred Kastler on 7 February 1989.Students originate from, in addition to Pointoise and Cergy, Éragny, Gency, Herblay, Jouy le Moutier, Magny en Vexin, and Osny. As of 2016 there are 315 students.

Lycée Camille Claudel (Vauréal)

Lycée Camille Claudel is a senior high school in Vauréal, Val-d'Oise, France, in the Paris metropolitan area.

Lycée Camille Pissarro

Lycée Camille Pissarro is a senior high school/sixth-form college in Pontoise, Val-d'Oise, France, in the Paris metropolitan area.

Planning for the school began in 1953 and it was first established in 1959.

Lycée Galilée (Cergy)

Lycée Galilée is a senior high school/sixth-form college in Cergy, Val-d'Oise, France, in the Paris metropolitan area.

It is within the Cergy-Saint-Christophe area of the commune.As of 2016 it had 1,200 students. It has English and German-based European sections.

Optical pumping

Optical pumping is a process in which light is used to raise (or "pump") electrons from a lower energy level in an atom or molecule to a higher one. It is commonly used in laser construction, to pump the active laser medium so as to achieve population inversion. The technique was developed by 1966 Nobel Prize winner Alfred Kastler in the early 1950s.

Optical pumping is also used to cyclically pump electrons bound within an atom or molecule to a well-defined quantum state. For the simplest case of coherent two-level optical pumping of an atomic species containing a single outer-shell electron, this means that the electron is coherently pumped to a single hyperfine sublevel (labeled ), which is defined by the polarization of the pump laser along with the quantum selection rules. Upon optical pumping, the atom is said to be oriented in a specific sublevel, however due to the cyclic nature of optical pumping the bound electron will actually be undergoing repeated excitation and decay between upper and lower state sublevels. The frequency and polarization of the pump laser determines which sublevel the atom is oriented in.

In practice, completely coherent optical pumping may not occur due to power-broadening of the linewidth of a transition and undesirable effects such as hyperfine structure trapping and radiation trapping. Therefore the orientation of the atom depends more generally on the frequency, intensity, polarization, spectral bandwidth of the laser as well as the linewidth and transition probability of the absorbing transition.

An optical pumping experiment is commonly found in physics undergraduate laboratories, using rubidium gas isotopes and displaying the ability of radiofrequency (MHz) electromagnetic radiation to effectively pump and unpump these isotopes.


Pontoise (French pronunciation: ​[pɔ̃twɑz]) is a commune in the northwestern suburbs of Paris, France. It is located 28.4 km (17.6 mi) from the centre of Paris, in the "new town" of Cergy-Pontoise.


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