Walther Nernst


Walther Hermann Nernst

Photo from the Nobel Foundation archive.

Walther Hermann Nernst
The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1920

Born: 25 June 1864, Briesen, Prussia (now Wąbrzeźno, Poland)

Died: 18 November 1941, Muskau, Germany

Affiliation at the time of the award: Berlin University, Berlin, Germany

Prize motivation: “in recognition of his work in thermochemistry”

Walther Nernst received his Nobel Prize one year later, in 1921.

Prize share: 1/1


During chemical reactions, atoms and molecules regroup and form new constellations. In most cases chemical reactions are not complete without an ensuing chemical equilibrium that depends on the temperature. In almost all chemical reactions heat is released or absorbed. In 1912 Walther Nernst was able to formulate the third law of thermodynamics, which made it possible to calculate chemical equilibriums on the basis of the heat exchange. He achieved this by studying conditions at very low temperatures.

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