Charles François de Cisternay du Fay

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Charles François de Cisternay du Fay
Charles François de Cisternay du Fay.jpg
Charles François de Cisternay du Fay
Born (1698-09-14)September 14, 1698
Died July 16, 1739(1739-07-16) (aged 40)
Nationality French
Fields chemistry
Known for electric charge

Charles François de Cisternay du Fay (14 September 1698 – 16 July 1739) was a French chemist and superintendent of the Jardin du Roi.

He discovered the existence of two types of electricity and named them "vitreous" and "resinous" (later known as positive and negative charge respectively). He noted the difference between conductors and insulators, calling them 'electrics' and 'non-electrics' for their ability to produce contact electrification. He also discovered that alike-charged objects would repel each other and that unlike-charged objects attract. He also disproved certain misconceptions regarding electric charge, such as that of Dr. Stephen Gray who believed that electric properties of a body depended on its colour. Du Fay's observations on electricity were reported in a paper written in December of 1733 and printed in Volume 38 of the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society in 1734. He became a member of the Academy of Sciences in 1733.

Du Fay died of smallpox in 1739.[1]


  1. ^ The Story of Electrical and Magnetic Measurements: From 500 BC to the 1940s, Joseph F. Keithley, p. 20

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