Appointed director of the Observatory in Berlin and elected to the Berlin Academy of Sciences (1755).
Settled in St. Petersburg (1757). Made a member of the Imperial Academy of Sciences and professor of physics. Studied electricity and magnetism, and published his Tentamen theoriae electricitatis et magnetismi (1759).
In the course of his work on electricity, he introduced several important modifications of Franklin’s theories, which he nevertheless basically upheld.
Born in Saxony.