Svante August Arrhenius
The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1903
Born: 19 February 1859, Vik, Sweden
Died: 2 October 1927, Stockholm, Sweden
Affiliation at the time of the award: Stockholm University, Stockholm, Sweden
Prize motivation: "in recognition of the extraordinary services he has rendered to the advancement of chemistry by his electrolytic theory of dissociation."
Prize share: 1/1
A connection between chemical and electrical phenomena became apparent in the 19th century, but it was unclear just what this relationship was. Svante Arrhenius studied how electrical current is conducted in chemical solutions. In 1883 he proposed a theory that when rock salt (which consists of sodium and chlorine) is dissolved in water, it splits into sodium atoms with positive electrical charges and chlorine atoms with negative charges. These electrically charged atoms, ions, allow the solution to conduct electricity.
Their work and discoveries range from cancer therapy and laser physics to developing proteins that can solve humankind’s chemical problems. The work of the 2018 Nobel Laureates also included combating war crimes, as well as integrating innovation and climate with economic growth. Find out more.