Auguste Bravais

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Auguste Bravais (ca.1850)

Auguste Bravais (born August 23, 1811 in Annonay , France , † March 30, 1863 in Le Chesnay ) was a French physicist and crystallographer .

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Bravais finished his classical training at the Collège Stanislas in Paris with the graduation in 1827 and after a national competition in 1829, at which he received the first price in mathematics, at the École polytechnique , where he also finished as one of the best. Then he could choose his future field of activity and chose the French Navy . In 1832 he was seconded to map the coast of Algeria . Publications on botany led to his admission to the Société Philomathique de Paris in 1835. He received his doctorate from the University of Lyon in 1837 . Bravais undertook extensive research in the fields of botany, astronomy , mineralogy and physics . In 1841 he became professor of astronomy in Lyon, in 1845 professor of physics at the École Polytechnique in Paris . It was there that he began to deal with crystal symmetry.

Auguste Bravais showed in 1849 that there are only 14 elementary or unit cells of crystals in three-dimensional space ( Bravais lattice ), which have the following properties :

  1. The unit cell is the simplest repeating unit in a crystal.
  2. Opposite surfaces of a unit cell are parallel.
  3. The edge of the unit cell connects equivalent locations.

In the discovery of the Bravais grids, as it turned out later, he had forerunners in Moritz Frankenheim in 1826 and Johann Hessel in 1830. Bravais, however, was the first to publish a rigorous proof and to attract wide scientific attention.

In 1866 he worked out the relationships between the ideal lattice and the real crystals. Bravais' work was the mathematical and conceptual basis for the later discovery of the X-ray scattering experiments by Max von Laue , which led to the determination of the crystal structures in 1912 . Bravais entered the Academy of Sciences in Paris in 1854 , but had to resign from all offices two years later due to illness. Since 1853 he was a corresponding member of the Bavarian Academy of Sciences .


  • A. Bravais: Mémoire sur les systèmes formés par des points distribués regulièrement sur un plan ou dans l'espace, Journal de l'Ecole Polytechnique , Volume 19, 1850, pp. 1–128; in German translation by C. and E. Blasius: Treatise on the systems of points regularly distributed on a plane or in space , Leipzig: Engelmann, 1897 (= Ostwald's classic of exact sciences, 90). German translation

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Individual evidence

  1. Frankenheim also found 15 classes, two of which later proved to be equivalent, Buerger Elementary Crystallography , Wiley 1956, p. 98.
  2. ^ List of members since 1666: Letter B. Académie des sciences, accessed on September 26, 2019 (French).
  3. Member entry of Auguste Bravais at the Bavarian Academy of Sciences , accessed on December 24, 2016.