Nobel Prizes and Laureates

Nobel Prizes and Laureates

The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1936
Peter Debye

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Peter Debye - Facts

Petrus (Peter) Josephus Wilhelmus Debye

Petrus (Peter) Josephus Wilhelmus Debye

Born: 24 March 1884, Maastricht, the Netherlands

Died: 2 November 1966, Ithaca, NY, USA

Affiliation at the time of the award: Berlin University, Berlin, Germany, Kaiser-Wilhelm-Institut (now Max-Planck-Institut) für Physik, Berlin, Germany

Prize motivation: "for his contributions to our knowledge of molecular structure through his investigations on dipole moments and on the diffraction of X-rays and electrons in gases"

Field: physical chemistry, structural chemistry

Prize share: 1/1


One of chemistry's most important missions is to discern what molecules look like - how molecules are arranged in a structure. A method Peter Debye developed in 1912 to determine how electrical charges are distributed in a molecule became important in the mapping of molecular structures. At the same time, X-ray radiation was becoming an important tool for mapping crystalline structures, but Peter Debye also developed methods for using both X-rays and electron beams to map molecular structures in gases, for example.

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