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Charles Kittel
Born (1916-07-18)July 18, 1916
Died May 15, 2019(2019-05-15) (aged 102)
Nationality American
Alma mater University of Cambridge
University of Wisconsin–Madison
Known for RKKY interaction
Introduction to Solid State Physics textbook
Awards Oliver E. Buckley Condensed Matter Prize (1957)
Scientific career
Fields Physics
Institutions University of California, Berkeley
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Bell Laboratories
Thesis The fine structure of nuclear energy levels on the alpha model (1941)
Doctoral advisor Gregory Breit
Doctoral students Elihu Abrahams
Raymond L. Orbach
Albert Overhauser

Charles Kittel (July 18, 1916 – May 15, 2019) was an American physicist. He was a professor at University of California, Berkeley from 1951 and was professor emeritus from 1978 until his death.

Life and work

Charles Kittel was born in New York City in 1916. He studied at the University of Cambridge, England, where he obtained his Bachelor of Arts (BA) in 1938. He published his thesis, under Gregory Breit, in 1941 at the University of Wisconsin–Madison and joined the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) between 1945 and 1947. During World War II, he joined the Submarine Operations Research Group (SORG). (He is mentioned on page 478 of RV Jones' book Most Secret War, published 1978.) He served in the United States Navy as a naval attache. From 1947 to 1951, he worked for Bell Laboratories, New Jersey, USA, especially on ferromagnetism.

From 1951 to 1978, he worked at the University of California, Berkeley, where he taught and did research in the field of theoretical solid-state physics, a part of condensed-matter physics. He was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1945, 1956 and 1963. Many well-known postdoctoral fellows worked with him, including James C. Phillips and Pierre-Gilles de Gennes.

Among other achievements, Kittel is credited with the theoretical discovery of the RKKY interaction (the first K standing for Kittel) and the Kittel magnon mode in ferromagnets.

Physics students worldwide study his classic text Introduction to Solid State Physics, now in its 8th edition. He was a member of the U.S. National Academy of Sciences, elected in 1957.

Kittel died on May 15, 2019, at the age of 102.


  • Oliver E. Buckley Condensed Matter Prize, 1957
  • Berkeley Distinguished Teacher Award, 1970
  • Oersted Medal, American Association of Physics Teachers, 1979


  • Introduction to Solid State Physics, 1st ed. 1953 - 8th ed. 2005, ISBN: 0-471-41526-X
  • Quantum Theory of Solids, 1963, ISBN: 0-471-49025-3 and (with C. Y. Fong) 1987, ISBN: 0-471-62412-8
  • Thermal Physics, 2nd ed. 1980, ISBN: 0-7167-1088-9, and (with H. Kroemer) 1980.
  • Berkeley Physics Course. Mechanics. Vol. 1, with Walter Knight and Malvin A. Ruderman
  • Elementary Statistical Physics. New York: John Wiley & Sons. 1958. OCLC 912372820. Reprinted five times by 1967; a reproduction was published in 2004 by Dover (ISBN: 9780486435145).

See also

Kids robot.svg In Spanish: Charles Kittel para niños

  • Antiferroelectricity
  • Ferromagnetic resonance
  • Single domain (magnetic)
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