Michael Faraday

Last Updated: April 24, 2024

Michael Faraday

Who is Michael Faraday?

Michael Faraday was born on September 22, 1791, and deceased on August 25, 1867, was a groundbreaking scientist who made significant contributions to the field of physics. He is best known for his work in electromagnetism and electrochemistry, fundamentally shaping our understanding of electrical and magnetic fields. His discoveries include the principles underlying electromagnetic induction, diamagnetism, and electrolysis. Despite his limited formal education, Faraday’s keen experiments and brilliant insights established him as a key figure in the scientific community, profoundly influencing the practical applications of electricity.

Michael Faraday Early Life and Education

Early Life

Michael Faraday was born in 1791 in Newington Butts, which is now part of South London. He grew up in a poor family and received only basic education in reading, writing, and arithmetic at a local church Sunday school. From an early age, Faraday demonstrated a keen interest in learning, particularly in the scientific fields, despite his limited access to formal education.

Self-Education through Apprenticeship

At the age of 14, Faraday began an apprenticeship with a local bookbinder and bookseller. Over the course of seven years, he used this opportunity to educate himself. He read many books, focusing on topics in chemistry, physics, and electricity. This self-directed study laid the groundwork for his future scientific achievements.

Royal Institution of Great Britain

Faraday’s formal scientific education began when he attended lectures by the eminent chemist Sir Humphry Davy at the Royal Institution of Great Britain. In 1812, after sending Davy a 300-page book of notes he had taken during these lectures, Faraday was appointed as a chemical assistant at the Royal Institution. Here, he immersed himself in scientific research, experimenting and learning directly from practical work and further lectures. This hands-on experience in the lab was crucial in developing his understanding and skills in physical and chemical phenomena.

Michael Faraday Scientific Achievements

Electromagnetic Induction

In 1831, Michael Faraday discovered electromagnetic induction, a principle that explains how electric currents generate magnetic fields and vice versa. He conducted experiments using coils and magnets, demonstrating that moving a magnet through a coil of wire produces an electric current. This discovery laid the foundation for the development of electric generators and transformers.

Faraday’s Law of Electrolysis

Faraday formulated the laws of electrolysis around 1833, quantifying the relationship between the amount of electrical charge used in an electrolysis experiment and the substance liberated at the electrode. His laws are still used today to predict and understand the behavior of ions in solutions during electrolysis.

Faraday Cage

Faraday invented the Faraday cage in 1836. This enclosure, made from conducting materials, shields its contents from static electric fields and electromagnetic radiation. The Faraday cage concept proves essential in protecting electronic equipment from lightning strikes and other electrostatic discharges.


In 1845, Faraday discovered diamagnetism, an effect exhibited by certain materials that repel magnetic fields. His research in this area further deepened scientific understanding of magnetic properties in various materials.


Faraday also contributed to the field of chemistry by identifying the compound benzene in 1825. His isolation of this hydrocarbon was significant because it opened the door to the study of aromatic compounds, which are crucial in the synthesis of many plastics, resins, and pharmaceuticals.

Michael Faraday Discoveries and Inventions

Discovery of Electromagnetic Induction

In 1831, Michael Faraday made the groundbreaking discovery of electromagnetic induction, revealing that a changing magnetic field induces an electric current in a nearby circuit. This principle is now fundamental in the operation of electric generators and transformers.

Invention of the Electric Motor

Following his experiments with electromagnetic induction, Faraday went on to build the first electric motor in the early 1820s. He demonstrated that electrical energy could convert into mechanical energy, thereby paving the way for the development of numerous mechanical devices powered by electricity.

Faraday’s Law of Electrolysis

Faraday formulated and published his two laws of electrolysis in 1834, which quantify how electric charge relates to chemical change at the electrodes during electrolysis. These laws help predict the amounts of different substances released or absorbed during the process.

Development of the Faraday Cage

In 1836, Faraday introduced the Faraday cage, an enclosure used to block external static and non-static electric fields. It effectively shields its contents from electric charges and electromagnetic radiation, a principle exploited in various applications to protect sensitive electronic equipment.

Discovery of Benzene

In 1825, Faraday discovered benzene during an experiment with illuminating gas, identifying it as a new hydrocarbon. This discovery was crucial in the later development of organic chemistry, influencing the synthesis of numerous chemical compounds.

Work on Diamagnetism and Paramagnetism

Faraday’s research extended to the study of magnetism, where he discovered the principles of diamagnetism and paramagnetism in 1845. He showed that materials respond differently to magnetic fields, some being attracted and others repelled.

Michael Faraday Awards and Honors

  1. Royal Medal – The Royal Society awarded Faraday the Royal Medal twice, first in 1835 and again in 1846, for his extensive work in chemistry and electricity.
  2. Copley Medal – In 1832, the Royal Society honored Faraday with this prestigious medal for his discoveries of electromagnetic rotations.
  3. Rumford Medal – He received this medal in 1846 for his discoveries of the magnetic properties of light and the illumination of lines of magnetic force.
  4. Honorary Degrees – Oxford and other universities granted him honorary Doctor of Civil Law degrees, acknowledging his scientific achievements.
  5. Membership in the Royal Society – The Royal Society elected Faraday as a member in 1824, one of the highest honors a UK scientist can receive.
  6. Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences – In 1838, Faraday became a Foreign Honorary Member, marking international recognition of his work.
  7. Jubilee of the Chemical Society – In 1862, the society celebrated the 50th anniversary of Faraday’s apprenticeship to Humphry Davy with a special event.
  8. Naming and Commemorations – The science community has named several institutions, awards, and the ‘farad’ unit of electrical capacitance after him to honor his legacy.

Michael Faraday Death

He passed away on August 25, 1867, at his house in Hampton Court. He was 75 years old. His health had been declining for several years before his death. Despite offers of burial in Westminster Abbey, Faraday chose to be buried in a simple grave at Highgate Cemetery in London, reflecting his modest life. His contributions to science, especially in electricity and magnetism, continue to influence the field of physics to this day.


How many times did Faraday fail?

Michael Faraday faced numerous failures, particularly early in his career, persisting through many unsuccessful experiments before achieving success.

What was Michael Faraday most famous invention?

Michael Faraday is most renowned for inventing the electric motor, a cornerstone in the development of electrical engineering.

What did Michael Faraday struggle with?

Michael Faraday struggled with a lack of formal education and health issues later in life, which affected his ability to conduct research.

AI Generator

Text prompt

Add Tone

10 Examples of Public speaking

20 Examples of Gas lighting