He is counted among the pioneers and founders of crystal physics. From 1865 to 1909, he served as director of the Physikalisches Kabinett in Vienna. His book on introductory theoretical physics, Einleitung in die theoretische physik, was published in eight editions from 1867 to 1891.
With crystallographer Wilhelm Josef Grailich, he was co-author of Untersuchungen über die Physikalischen Verhältnisse Krystallisirter Körper ("Investigations into the physical conditions of crystallized bodies").
The mineral langite was named in his honor by Nevil Story Maskelyne.