William Francis Giauque
Born: 12 May 1895, Niagara Falls, Canada
Died: 28 March 1982, Berkeley, CA, USA
Affiliation at the time of the award: University of California, Berkeley, CA, USA
Prize motivation: "for his contributions in the field of chemical thermodynamics, particularly concerning the behaviour of substances at extremely low temperatures"
Field: chemical thermodynamics, physical chemistry
Prize share: 1/1
Thermodynamics is about heat and its transformation into other forms of energy - basically involving statistical descriptions of atomic and molecular movements. An important but difficult to grasp concept in thermodynamics is entropy, which is a measure of disorder in a system. The third law of thermodynamics states that the entropy in a perfect crystal is zero when the absolute temperature is zero. In 1933 William Giauque used a magnetic field to attain an extremely low temperature and was able provide evidence for the law's validity.