Gabriel Lippmann (August 16, 1845 – July 13, 1921) was a French physicist and Nobel Prize winner. He received the Nobel Prize for Physics in 1908 for producing the first colour photographic plate, known as the Lippman plate. He is remembered for the innovations that resulted from his search for a direct colour-sensitive medium in photography.
Lippmann was born in Luxembourg as a son of a Jewish family, but was raised in Paris. He was a bright but unruly student, and despite the fact that he never received his teacher's certificate, he was appointed professor of mathematical physics at the Sorbonne in 1883. He later was appointed head of the Sorbonne's Laboratories of Physical Research in 1886.
In 1891, Lippmann revealed his revolutionary colour-photography process, which utilized the natural colours of light wavelengths instead of using dyes and pigments. He placed a reflecting coat of mercury behind the emulsion of a panchromatic plate. The mercury reflected light rays back through the emulsion to interfere with the incident rays, forming a latent image that varied in depth according to each ray's colour. The development process then reproduced this image, and the result, when viewed, was brilliantly accurate. This direct method of colour photography was slow and tedious because of necessarily long exposure times, and no copies of the original could be made. It never achieved popularity, therefore, but it was an important step in the development of colour photography.