Niels Bohr


Niels Henrik David Bohr

Photo from the Nobel Foundation archive.

Niels Henrik David Bohr
The Nobel Prize in Physics 1922

Born: 7 October 1885, Copenhagen, Denmark

Died: 18 November 1962, Copenhagen, Denmark

Affiliation at the time of the award: Copenhagen University, Copenhagen, Denmark

Prize motivation: “for his services in the investigation of the structure of atoms and of the radiation emanating from them”

Prize share: 1/1


Niels Bohr was born and raised in Copenhagen. After his doctorate, he spent a number of years abroad, including in Manchester and Cambridge, before returning to Denmark to become head of Copenhagen University's Institute for Theoretical Physics (now the Niels Bohr Institute). The Institute became a legendary research environment and a center for the development of quantum physics. Bohr became one of Denmark's most famous and acclaimed people and a central figure in 20th century physics.


The discovery of the electron and radioactivity in the late 19th century led to different models being proposed for the atom’s structure. In 1913, Niels Bohr proposed a theory for the hydrogen atom, based on quantum theory that some physical quantities only take discrete values. Electrons move around a nucleus, but only in prescribed orbits, and If electrons jump to a lower-energy orbit, the difference is sent out as radiation. Bohr’s model explained why atoms only emit light of fixed wavelengths, and later incorporated the theories on light quanta.

To cite this section
MLA style: Niels Bohr – Facts. Nobel Prize Outreach AB 2024. Thu. 20 Jun 2024. <>

Back to top Back To Top Takes users back to the top of the page

Nobel Prizes and laureates

Eleven laureates were awarded a Nobel Prize in 2023, for achievements that have conferred the greatest benefit to humankind. Their work and discoveries range from effective mRNA vaccines and attosecond physics to fighting against the oppression of women.

See them all presented here.

Explore prizes and laureates

Look for popular awards and laureates in different fields, and discover the history of the Nobel Prize.