Walther Hermann Nernst, ForMemRS (25 June 1864 – 18 November 1941) was a German chemist known for his work in thermodynamics, physical chemistry, electrochemistry, and solid state physics. His formulation of the Nernst heat theorem helped pave the way for the third law of thermodynamics, for which he won the 1920 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. He is also known for developing the Nernst equation in 1887.
Walther Hermann Nernst
25 June 1864
|Died||18 November 1941 (aged 77)|
|Alma mater||University of Zürich|
University of Berlin
University of Graz
University of Würzburg
|Known for||Third Law of Thermodynamics|
Nernst heat theorem
|Awards||Nobel Prize in chemistry (1920)|
Franklin Medal (1928)
|Institutions||University of Göttingen|
University of Berlin
University of Leipzig
|Doctoral advisor||Friedrich Kohlrausch|
|Other academic advisors||Ludwig Boltzmann|
|Doctoral students||Sir Frances Simon |
Karl Friedrich Bonhoeffer
Margaret Eliza Maltby
|Other notable students||Gilbert N. Lewis|
Robert von Lieben
Hermann Irving Schlesinger
|Influenced||J. R. Partington|
Nernst was born in Briesen in West Prussia (now Wąbrzeźno, Poland) to Gustav Nernst (1827–1888) and Ottilie Nerger (1833–1876). His father was a country judge. Nernst had three older sisters and one younger brother. His third sister died of cholera. Nernst went to elementary school at Graudenz. He studied physics and mathematics at the universities of Zürich, Berlin, Graz and Würzburg, where he received his doctorate 1887. In 1889, he finished his habilitation at University of Leipzig.
It was said that Nernst was mechanically minded in that he was always thinking of ways to apply new discoveries to industry. His hobbies included hunting and fishing. His friend Albert Einstein was amused by "his childlike vanity and self-complacency" "His own study and laboratory always presented aspects of extreme chaos which his coworkers termed appropriately 'the state of maximum entropy'".
Nernst married Emma Lohmeyer in 1892 with whom he had two sons and three daughters. Both of Nernst's sons died fighting in World War I. He was a friend and colleague of Svante Arrhenius, and suggested setting fire to unused coal seams to increase the global temperature. He was a vocal critic of Adolf Hitler and Nazism, and two of his three daughters married Jewish men. After Hitler came to power they emigrated, one to England and the other to Brazil. Nazism also ended Nernst's career as a scientist. Nernst had a severe heart attack in 1939. He died in 1941 and is buried near Max Planck, Otto Hahn and Max von Laue in Göttingen, Germany.
Nernst started university at Zurich in 1883, then after an interlude in Berlin, he returned to Zurich. He wrote his thesis at Graz where Boltzmann was professor, though he worked under the direction of Ettinghausen. They discovered the Nernst effect: that a magnetic field applied perpendicular to a metallic conductor in a temperature gradient gives rise to an electrical potential difference. Next, he moved to Würzburg under Kohlrausch where he submitted and defended his thesis. Ostwald recruited him to the first department of physical chemistry at Leipzig. Nernst moved there as an assistant, working on the thermodynamics of electrical currents in solutions. Promoted to lecturer, he taught briefly at Heidelberg and then moved to Göttingen. Three years later, he was offered a professorship in Munich, to keep him in Prussia the government created a chair for him at Göttingen. There, he wrote a celebrated textbook Theoretical Chemistry, which was translated into English, French, and Russian. He also derived the Nernst equation for the electrical potential generated by unequal concentrations of an ion separated by a membrane that is permeable to the ion. His equation is widely used in cell physiology and neurobiology.
The carbon electric filament lamp then in use was dim and expensive because it required a vacuum in its bulb. Nernst invented a solid-body radiator with a filament of rare-earth oxides, known as the Nernst glower, it is still important in the field of infrared spectroscopy. Continuous ohmic heating of the filament results in conduction. The glower operates best in wavelengths from 2 to 14 micrometers. It gives a bright light but only after a warm-up period. Nernst sold the patent for one million marks, wisely not opting for royalties because soon the tungsten filament lamp filled with inert gas was introduced. With his riches, Nernst in 1898 bought the first of the eighteen automobiles he owned during his lifetime and a country estate of more than a five hundred hectares for hunting. He increased the power of his early automobiles by carrying a cylinder of nitrous oxide that he could inject into the carburetor. After eighteen productive years at Göttingen, investigating osmotic pressure and electrochemistry and presenting a theory of how nerves conduct, he moved to Berlin, and was awarded the title Geheimrat
In 1905, he proposed his "New Heat Theorem", later known as the Third law of thermodynamics. He showed that as the temperature approached absolute zero, the entropy approaches zero — while the free energy remains above zero. This is the work for which he is best remembered, as it enabled chemists to determine free energies (and therefore equilibrium points) of chemical reactions from heat measurements. Theodore Richards claimed that Nernst had stolen his idea, but Nernst is almost universally credited with the discovery. Nernst became friendly with Kaiser Wilhelm, whom he persuaded to found the Kaiser Wilhelm Gesellschaft for the Advancement of the Sciences with an initial capital of eleven million marks. Nernst's laboratory discovered that at low temperatures specific heats fell markedly and would probably disappear at absolute zero. This fall was predicted for liquids and solids in a 1909 paper of Einstein's on the quantum mechanics of specific heats at cryogenic temperatures. Nernst was so impressed that he traveled all the way to Zurich to visit Einstein, who was relatively unknown in Zurich in 1909, so people said: "Einstein must be a clever fellow if the great Nernst comes all the way from Berlin to Zurich to talk to him." Nernst and Planck lobbied to establish a special professorship in Berlin and Nernst donated to its endowment. In 1913 they traveled to Switzerland to persuade Einstein to accept it; a dream job: a named professorship at the top university in Germany, without teaching duties, leaving him free for research.
In 1914, the Nernsts were entertaining coworkers and students they had brought to their country estate in a private railway car when they learned that war had been declared. Their two older sons entered the army, while father enlisted in the voluntary driver's corps. He supported the German army against their opponent's charges of barbarism by signing the Manifesto of the Ninety-Three, On 21 August 1914, he drove documents from Berlin to the commander of the German right wing in France, advancing with them for two weeks until he could see the glow of the Paris lights at night. The tide turned at the battle of the Marne. When the stalemate in the trenches began, he returned home. He contacted Colonel Max Bauer, the staff officer responsible for munitions, with the idea of driving the defenders out of their trenches with shells releasing tear gas. When his idea was tried one of the observers was Fritz Haber, who argued that too many shells would be needed, it would be better to release a cloud of heavier-than-air poisonous gas; the first chlorine cloud attack on 22 April 1915 was not supported by a strong infantry thrust, so the chance that gas would break the stalemate was irrevocably gone. Nernst was awarded the Iron Cross second class. As a Staff Scientific Advisor in the Imperial German Army, he directed research on explosives, much of which was done in his laboratory where they developed guanidine perchlorate. Then he worked on the development of trench mortars. He was awarded the Iron Cross first class and later the Pour le Mérite. When the high command was considering unleashing unrestricted submarine warfare, he asked the Kaiser for an opportunity to warn about the enormous potential of the United States as an adversary. They would not listen, Ludendorff shouted him down for "incompetent nonsense." He published his book The Foundations of the New Heat Theorem. Both sons had died at the front.
In 1918, after studying photochemistry, he proposed the atomic chain reaction theory. It stated that when a reaction in which free atoms are formed that can decompose target molecules into more free atoms would result in a chain reaction. His theory is closely related to the natural process of Nuclear Fission.
In 1920, he and his family briefly fled abroad because he was one of the scientists on the Allied list of war criminals. Later that year he received the Nobel Prize in chemistry in recognition of his work on thermochemistry. He was elected Rector of Berlin University for 1921-1922. He set up an agency to channel government and private funds to young scientists and declined becoming Ambassador to the United States. For two unhappy years, he was the president of the Physikalisch-Technische Reichsanstalt (National Physical Laboratory), where he could not cope with the "mixture of mediocrity and red tape". In 1924, he became director of the Institute of Physical Chemistry at Berlin.
In 1927, the decrease in specific heat at low temperatures was extended to gases. He studied the theories of cosmic rays and cosmology.
Although a press release described him as "completely unmusical", Nernst developed an electric piano, the "Neo-Bechstein-Flügel" in 1930 in association with the Bechstein and Siemens companies, replacing the sounding board with vacuum tube amplifiers. The piano used electromagnetic pickups to produce electronically modified and amplified sound in the same way as an electric guitar. In fact, he was a pianist, sometimes accompanying Einstein's violin.
In 1933, Nernst learned that a colleague, with whom he had hoped to collaborate, had been dismissed from the department because he was a Jew. Nernst immediately taxied to see Haber to request a position in his Institute, which was not controlled by the government, only to learn that Haber was moving to England. Soon, Nernst was in trouble for declining to fill out a government form on his racial origins. He retired from his professorship but was sacked from the board of the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute. He lived quietly in the country; in 1937 he traveled to Oxford to receive an honorary degree, also visiting his eldest daughter, her husband, and his three grandchildren.
Albert von Ettingshausen (30 March 1850 – 9 June 1932) was an Austrian physicist.
He was professor of physics at Graz University of Technology, where he also taught electrical engineering.
Earlier he was an assistant to Ludwig Boltzmann at the University of Graz.
In 1886, he and his colleague Walther Nernst, then a PhD student at the University of Graz, jointly discovered the thermoelectric phenomena now known as the Ettingshausen effect and Nernst effect.Emil Bose
Emil Hermann Bose (October 20, 1874 in Bremen, Germany – May 25, 1911 in La Plata, Argentina), was a German physicist. He was the first director of the Department of Electrical Engineering at the University of La Plata, Argentina. He studied under Walther Nernst at the University of Göttingen, Germany and was recruited by the newly created university in Argentina, where he taught for two years until his death from typhoid fever in 1911. He was succeeded by Richard Gans.See
Bibiloni, A.G. (2005)Ettingshausen effect
The Ettingshausen Effect (named for Albert von Ettingshausen) is a thermoelectric (or thermomagnetic) phenomenon that affects the electric current in a conductor when a magnetic field is present.
Ettingshausen and his PhD student Walther Nernst were studying the Hall effect in bismuth, and noticed an unexpected perpendicular current flow when one side of the sample was heated. This is also known as the Nernst effect. Conversely, when applying a current (along the y-axis) and a perpendicular magnetic field (along the z-axis) a temperature gradient appears along the x-axis. Because of the Hall effect, electrons are forced to move perpendicular to the applied current. Due to the accumulation of electrons on one side of the sample, the number of collisions increases and a heating of the material occurs. This effect is quantified by the Ettingshausen coefficient P, which is defined as:
where dT/dx is the temperature gradient that results from the y-component Jy of an electric current density and the z-component Bz of a magnetic field.
In most metals like copper, silver and gold P is on the order of 10−16 Km/(TA) and thus difficult to observe in common magnetic fields. In bismuth the Ettingshausen coefficient is several orders of magnitude larger because of its poor thermal conductivity.
Hermann Irving Schlesinger (October 11, 1882 – October 3, 1960) was an American inorganic chemist, working in boron chemistry.
He and Herbert C. Brown discovered sodium borohydride in 1940 and both were involved in further development of borohydride chemistry.
Schlesinger studied chemistry at the University of Chicago from 1900 till 1905, when he received his Ph.D. for work with Julius Stieglitz.
In the following two years he worked with Walther Nernst at the University of Berlin, with
Johannes Thiele at the University of Strasbourg and with John Jacob Abel at the Johns Hopkins University.
From 1907 to 1960 he taught at the University of Chicago.Kurt Mendelssohn
Kurt Alfred Georg Mendelssohn FRS (7 January 1906 – 18 September 1980) was a German-born British medical physicist, elected a Fellow of the Royal Society 1951.He was a great-great-grandson of Saul Mendelssohn, the younger brother of philosopher Moses Mendelssohn. He received a doctorate in physics from the University of Berlin, having studied under Max Planck, Walther Nernst, Erwin Schrödinger, and Albert Einstein. Leaving Germany at the advent of the Nazi regime in 1933, he went to England. He worked at the University of Oxford from 1933. He was Reader in Physics there, 1955–1973, Emeritus Reader, 1973; Emeritus Professorial Fellow of Wolfson College, Oxford, 1973 (Professorial Fellow, 1971–1973).
His scientific work included low temperature physics, transuranic elements, and medical physics.
He was awarded the Royal Society's Hughes Medal in 1967 and the Simon Memorial Prize in 1968.
In 1974, he published The Riddle of the Pyramids, in which he sought to explain the whys and wherefores of the earliest Egyptian pyramids. Though Mendelssohn himself was not an Egyptologist, the book builds on advice from experts like Sir Robert Mond and Walter Emery, as well as his own visits to Egypt and Mexico. His principal thesis was that the pyramid at Meidum had collapsed during construction, a conclusion he arrived at using his knowledge of physics and which was sparked in 1966 by images of the Aberfan disaster, where Mendelssohn saw similarities to the rubble mound surrounding the Meidum pyramid, a primary destination for his travel to Egypt the year before. Working from that conclusion, he further elaborated a theory that pyramid construction in Egypt took on a life of its own during the Third and Fourth Dynasties, more or less independently of the reigns of pharaohs. His theory has not been taken up by the Egyptological community, but the book remains a stimulating and detailed study of the Egyptian pyramids.Max Bodenstein
Max Ernst August Bodenstein (July 15, 1871 – September 3, 1942) was a German physical chemist known for his work in chemical kinetics. He was first to postulate a chain reaction mechanism and that explosions are branched chain reactions, later applied to the atomic bomb.Max Planck Institute for Physics
The Max Planck Institute for Physics (MPP) is a physics institute in Munich, Germany that specializes in high energy physics and astroparticle physics. It is part of the Max-Planck-Gesellschaft and is also known as the Werner Heisenberg Institute, after its first director in its current location.
The founding of the institute traces back to 1914, as an idea from Fritz Haber, Walther Nernst, Max Planck, Emil Warburg, Heinrich Rubens. On October 1, 1917, the institute was officially founded in Berlin as Kaiser-Wilhelm-Institut für Physik (KWIP, Kaiser Wilhelm Institute for Physics) with Albert Einstein as the first head director. In October 1922, Max von Laue succeeded Einstein as managing director. Einstein gave up his position as a director of the institute in April 1933. The Institute took part in the German nuclear weapon project from 1939-1942.A year after the end of fighting in Europe in World War II, the institute was moved to Göttingen and renamed the Max Planck Institute for Physics, with Heisenberg continuing as managing director. In 1946, Carl Friedrich von Weizsäcker and Karl Wirtz joined the faculty as the directors for theoretical and experimental physics, respectively.In June 1942, Werner Heisenberg took over as managing director. In 1955 the institute made the decision to move to Munich, and soon after began construction of its current building, designed by Sep Ruf. The institute moved into its current location on September 1, 1958 and took on the new name the Max Planck Institute for Physics and Astrophysics, still with Heisenberg as the managing director. In 1991, the institute was split into the Max Planck Institute for Physics, the Max Planck Institute for Astrophysics and the Max Planck Institute for Extraterrestrial Physics.Neo-Bechstein
Neo-Bechstein or Bechstein-Siemens-Nernst-Flügel were a set of electric grand pianos that were primarily built by Walther Nernst in the 1930s. Improvising upon an electrical prototype by Oskar Vierling, the design was executed around 1922, and the first of the set was marketed in 1931 to critical acclaim. The mechanics of the piano were implemented by the C. Bechstein company and the valve electronics were created by Siemens & Halske. The design belonged to a newer generation of electric pianos that eliminated the presence of any sound board.Nernst (crater)
Nernst is a lunar impact crater that lies on the far side of the Moon, just beyond the northwestern limb. It lies across the northern part of the larger walled plain Lorentz, and intrudes slightly into the northwestern rim of the crater Röntgen.
The rim of Nernst is relatively well-defined, although several smaller impacts lies across the edge. The satellite crater Nernst T has broken through the western rim edge. Smaller craters also lie aling the rim to the southwest and south-southeast. Around the remainder of the inner wall is some slumping and a few terrace-like features.
The interior of Nernst is relatively level, with a central peak formation offset slightly to the south of the midpoint. A pair of small craters lies on the interior floor along the western and southern inner edges. Parts of the remaining floor are marked by a series of rilles. In the southern half these rilles form grooves running generally from east to west.Nernst effect
In physics and chemistry, the Nernst effect (also termed first Nernst–Ettingshausen effect, after Walther Nernst and Albert von Ettingshausen) is a thermoelectric (or thermomagnetic) phenomenon observed when a sample allowing electrical conduction is subjected to a magnetic field and a temperature gradient normal (perpendicular) to each other. An electric field will be induced normal to both.
This effect is quantified by the Nernst coefficient |N|, which is defined to be
where is the y-component of the electric field that results from the magnetic field's z-component and the temperature gradient .
The reverse process is known as the Ettingshausen effect and also as the second Nernst–Ettingshausen effect.Nernst equation
In electrochemistry, the Nernst equation is an equation that relates the reduction potential of an electrochemical reaction (half-cell or full cell reaction) to the standard electrode potential, temperature, and activities (often approximated by concentrations) of the chemical species undergoing reduction and oxidation. It was named after Walther Nernst, a German physical chemist who formulated the equation.Nernst heat theorem
The Nernst heat theorem was formulated by Walther Nernst early in the twentieth century and was used in the development of the third law of thermodynamics.Nernst lamp
The Nernst lamp was an early form of incandescent lamp. Nernst lamps did not use a glowing tungsten filament. Instead, they used a ceramic rod that was heated to incandescence. Because the rod (unlike tungsten wire) would not further oxidize when exposed to air, there was no need to enclose it within a vacuum or noble gas environment; the burners in Nernst lamps could operate exposed to the air and were only enclosed in glass to isolate the hot incandescent emitter from its environment. A ceramic of zirconium oxide - yttrium oxide was used as the glowing rod.Developed by the German physicist and chemist Walther Nernst in 1897 at the University of Göttingen, these lamps were about twice as efficient as carbon filament lamps and they emitted a more "natural" light (more similar in spectrum to daylight).
The lamps were quite successfully marketed for a time, although they eventually lost out to the more-efficient tungsten filament incandescent light bulb.
One disadvantage of the Nernst design was that the ceramic rod was not electrically conductive at room temperature so the lamps needed a separate heater filament to heat the ceramic hot enough to begin conducting electricity on its own.
In the U.S., Nernst sold the patent to George Westinghouse who founded the Nernst Lamp Company at Pittsburgh in 1901.
Minerals for the production of the glowers were extracted from the company's own mines at the legendary Barringer Hill, Texas (since 1937 submerged beneath the waters of Lake Buchanan).
By 1904 a total of over 130,000 Nernst lamps had been placed in service throughout the country.
In Europe, the lamps were produced by the German Allgemeine Elektrizitäts-Gesellschaft (AEG, General Electricity Company) at Berlin.
At the 1900 World's Fair held in Paris the pavilion of the AEG was illuminated by 800 Nernst lamps which was quite spectacular at that time.
In addition to their usage for ordinary electric illumination, Nernst lamps were used in one of the first practical long-distance photoelectric facsimile (fax) systems, designed by professor Arthur Korn in 1902, in Allvar Gullstrand's slit lamp (1911) for ophthalmology, for projection and in microscopy.
After Nernst lamps fell into obsolescence "Nernst glowers" went on to be used as the infrared-emitting source used in IR spectroscopy devices. (Recently, even this has become obsolete as Nernst glowers have been largely replaced for this purpose by silicon carbide glow bars or "globars", which are conductive even at room temperature and therefore need no preheating.)Nernst–Planck equation
The time dependent form of the Nernst–Planck equation is a conservation of mass equation used to describe the motion of a charged chemical species in a fluid medium. It extends Fick's law of diffusion for the case where the diffusing particles are also moved with respect to the fluid by electrostatic forces: It is named after Walther Nernst and Max Planck.Niwica, Żary County
Niwica [niˈvit͡sa] (formerly German Zibelle) is a village in the administrative district of Gmina Trzebiel, within Żary County, Lubusz Voivodeship, in western Poland, close to the German border. It lies approximately 7 kilometres (4 mi) south of Trzebiel, 21 km (13 mi) west of Żary, and 61 km (38 mi) south-west of Zielona Góra.
Before 1945 the area was part of Germany, and the village was called Zibelle (see Territorial changes of Poland after World War II). German scientist Walther Nernst died in Zibelle in 1941.Richard Abegg
Richard Wilhelm Heinrich Abegg (January 9, 1869 – April 3, 1910) was a German chemist and pioneer of valence theory. He proposed that the difference of the maximum positive and negative valence of an element tends to be eight. This has come to be known as Abegg's rule. He was a gas balloon enthusiast, which caused his death at the age of 41 when he crashed in his balloon in Silesia.
Abegg received his PhD on July 19, 1891 as the student of August Wilhelm von Hofmann at the University of Berlin. Abegg learned organic chemistry from Hofmann, but one year after finishing his PhD degree he began researching physical chemistry while studying with Friedrich Wilhelm Ostwald in Leipzig, Germany. Abegg later served as private assistant to Walther Nernst at the University of Göttingen and to Svante Arrhenius at the University of Stockholm.
Abegg discovered the theory of freezing-point depression and anticipated Gilbert Newton Lewis's octet rule by revealing that the lowest and highest oxidation states of elements often differ by eight. He researched many topics in physical chemistry, including freezing points, the dielectric constant of ice, osmotic pressures, oxidation potentials, and complex ions.Spin Nernst Effect
The spin Nernst effect is a phenomenon of spin separation caused by the thermal flow of electrons in condensed matter. Spin-up and spin-down electrons are separated without the application of a magnetic field. This effect is similar to the spin Hall effect, where an electrical current leads to spin separation.
The effect was first experimentally observed in 2016 and published by two independent groups in 2017 .Stadtfriedhof (Göttingen)
The old Stadtfriedhof (City Cemetery) in Göttingen is a historic cemetery with graves of important scholars. It is the final resting place of no less than eight Nobel Prize winners: Max Born, Otto Hahn, Max von Laue, Walther Nernst, Max Planck, Otto Wallach, Adolf Windaus and
Wąbrzeźno [vɔmˈbʐɛʑnɔ] (listen) (German: Briesen) is a town in Poland, in the Kuyavian-Pomeranian Voivodeship, about 35 kilometres (22 miles) northeast of Toruń. It is the capital of the Wąbrzeźno County. The population is 13,971 inhabitants (2004).
The town is the birthplace of Walther Nernst, a chemist who in 1920 received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for the Nernst equation, which gives the standard electrode potential of an electric cell containing various concentrations of electrolytes.