Physical Chemists

Physical chemists study the physical properties and chemical compositions of substances, and analyze why certain materials react or behave the way they do. Physical chemistry is the branch of chemistry that deals with the physical structure of chemical compounds and they way they react when they come in contact with other compounds, the energy they possess and the bonds that hold their atoms together. It is a macroscopic or supra-molecular science that uses the principles and concepts of physics to understand chemical systems. Physical chemists work at the atomic and molecular level of materials—solid, liquid or gas—to discover and understand their fundamental characteristics. They basically work in laboratories, and work with sophisticated equipment, complex instruments and state-of-the-art computers to analyze various materials and develop theories. The results of such research are used to discover new uses for materials in industry-specific applications. Physical chemists work in government agencies, academics, plastic industry, pharmaceuticals, research institutions, etc. The field of physical chemistry is an interdisciplinary one; nanoscale science, analytical chemistry, and molecular modeling are related areas. Read on to browse through a list of world famous physical chemists and read their biographies and timelines.

This ranking is based on an algorithm that combines various factors, including the votes of our users and search trends on the internet.

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 1 Fritz Haber

Fritz Haber.
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Famous As: Chemist
Birthdate: December 9, 1868
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Wrocław
Died: January 29, 1934

Fritz Haber was a German chemist who was honored with the prestigious Nobel Prize in Chemistry for inventing the Haber-Bosch process. The process is used widely to synthesize ammonia from hydrogen gas and nitrogen gas. For his pioneering work in weaponizing poisonous gases like chlorine during World War I, Haber is referred to as the father of chemical warfare.

 2 Svante Arrhenius

Svante Arrhenius.
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Famous As: Scientist
Birthdate: February 19, 1859
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Vik
Died: October 2, 1927

Svante Arrhenius was a Swedish scientist who became the first Swedish person to win a Nobel Prize when he won the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1903. Although he was originally a physicist, Arrhenius is widely accepted as a chemist and is best remembered for co-founding physical chemistry. Stockholm University houses the Arrhenius Labs, which is named in his honor.

 3 Gilbert N. Lewis

Gilbert N. Lewis.
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Famous As: Physical chemist
Birthdate: October 23, 1875
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Weymouth, Massachusetts, United States
Died: March 23, 1946

 4 George de Hevesy

George de Hevesy.
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Famous As: Chemist
Birthdate: August 1, 1885
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Budapest, Austria-Hungary
Died: July 5, 1966
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 5 Ilya Prigogine

Ilya Prigogine.
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Famous As: Physical Chemist
Birthdate: January 25, 1917
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Moscow, Russia
Died: May 28, 2003

Ilya Prigogine was a physical chemist remembered for his work on irreversibility, complex systems, and dissipative structures. A respected member of several scientific organizations, Prigogine was honored with the Francqui Prize in 1955. In 1976, he won the Rumford Medal for his work concerning irreversible thermodynamics. His work on irreversible thermodynamics earned him the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1977.

 6 C.P. Snow

C.P. Snow
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Famous As: Novelist
Birthdate: October 15, 1905
Sun Sign: Libra
Birthplace: Leicester, England
Died: July 1, 1980
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 7 John M. Deutch

John M. Deutch
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Famous As: American government official
Birthdate: July 27, 1938
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Brussels, Belgium
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 8 Peter Debye

Peter Debye.
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Famous As: American-Dutch chemist
Birthdate: March 24, 1884
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Maastricht
Died: November 2, 1966
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 9 Wilhelm Ostwald

Wilhelm Ostwald.
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Famous As: Chemist
Birthdate: September 2, 1853
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Riga
Died: April 4, 1932

Wilhelm Ostwald was a Baltic German philosopher and chemist who is credited with co-founding the field of physical chemistry. A polymath, Ostwald made significant contributions to philosophy, art, and politics, especially after his retirement from academic life. His contributions to the fields of reaction velocities, chemical equilibria, and catalysis earned him the 1909 Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

 10 Willard Libby

Willard Frank Libby.
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Famous As: Physical Chemist
Birthdate: December 17, 1908
Sun Sign: Sagittarius
Birthplace: Grand Valley, Colorado
Died: September 8, 1980
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 11 Walther Nernst

Walther Nernst.
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Famous As: Physicist and Chemist
Birthdate: June 25, 1864
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Wąbrzeźno
Died: November 18, 1941

Walther Nernst was a German chemist best remembered for his work in physical chemistry, thermodynamics, solid state physics, and electrochemistry. He is credited with formulating the Nernst heat theorem, which was in turn used in the formulation of the third law of thermodynamics. Walther Nernst received the prestigious Nobel Prize in Chemistry in the year 1920.

 12 Frederick Soddy

Frederick Soddy.
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Famous As: Radiochemist
Birthdate: September 2, 1877
Sun Sign: Virgo
Birthplace: Eastbourne
Died: September 22, 1956
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 13 Shanti Swaroop Bhatnagar

Shanti Swaroop Bhatnagar.
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Famous As: Father of research laboratories
Birthdate: February 21, 1894
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Bhera
Died: January 1, 1955

 14 Richard C. Tolman

Richard C. Tolman
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Famous As: Physicist
Birthdate: March 4, 1881
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: West Newton, Newton, Massachusetts, United States
Died: September 5, 1948
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 15 Arnold Orville Beckman

Arnold Orville Beckman.
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Famous As: Chemist
Birthdate: April 10, 1900
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Cullom
Died: May 18, 2004

 16 Richard R. Ernst

Richard R. Ernst.
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Famous As: Chemist
Birthdate: August 14, 1933
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Winterthur

Richard R. Ernst is a Swiss physical chemist whose work on Nuclear Magnetic Resonance spectroscopy earned him the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1991. Over the course of his career, Ernst has been honored with other awards, including the John Gamble Kirkwood Medal. In 2009, he became the subject of a documentary film titled Science Plus Dharma Equals Social Responsibility.

 17 James B. Conant

James B. Conant
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Famous As: Chemist
Birthdate: March 26, 1893
Sun Sign: Aries
Birthplace: Dorchester, Boston, Massachusetts, United States
Died: February 11, 1978

 18 Johannes Nicolaus Brønsted

Johannes Nicolaus Brønsted
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Famous As: Chemist
Birthdate: February 22, 1879
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Varde, Denmark
Died: December 17, 1947

 19 W.E. Moerner

W.E. Moerner
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Famous As: Physical Chemist
Birthdate: June 24, 1953
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Pleasanton, California, United States

 20 Cyril Norman Hinshelwood

Cyril Norman Hinshelwood
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Famous As: Physical chemist
Birthdate: June 19, 1897
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: London, England
Died: October 9, 1967

 21 Franciscus Sylvius

Franciscus Sylvius
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Famous As: Physician
Birthdate: March 15, 1614
Sun Sign: Pisces
Birthplace: Hanau, Germany
Died: November 19, 1672

 22 Theodore William Richards

Theodore William Richards.
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Famous As: Chemist
Birthdate: January 31, 1868
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Germantown, Pennsylvania, U.S.
Died: April 2, 1928
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 23 Johannes Fibiger

Johannes Fibiger
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Famous As: Physician
Birthdate: April 23, 1867
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Silkeborg, Denmark
Died: January 30, 1928

 24 Paul Walden

Paul Walden.
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Famous As: Chemist
Birthdate: July 26, 1863
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Cēsis
Died: January 22, 1957
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 25 Johan Gottlieb Gahn

Johan Gottlieb Gahn
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Famous As: Chemist
Birthdate: August 19, 1745
Sun Sign: Leo
Birthplace: Voxna, Sweden
Died: December 8, 1818

 26 Frederick Gardner Cottrell

Frederick Gardner Cottrell
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Famous As: Chemist
Birthdate: January 10, 1877
Sun Sign: Capricorn
Birthplace: Oakland, California, United States
Died: November 16, 1948
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 27 Max Volmer

Max Volmer.
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Famous As: Chemist
Birthdate: May 3, 1885
Sun Sign: Taurus
Birthplace: Hilden
Died: June 3, 1965

 28 Carl Wagner

Carl Wagner
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Famous As: Chemist
Birthdate: May 25, 1901
Sun Sign: Gemini
Birthplace: Leipzig, Germany
Died: December 10, 1977
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 29 George Cowan

George Cowan
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Famous As: Chemist
Birthdate: February 15, 1920
Sun Sign: Aquarius
Birthplace: Worcester, Massachusetts, United States
Died: April 20, 2012

 30 Saul Dushman

Saul Dushman
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Famous As: Chemist
Birthdate: July 12, 1883
Sun Sign: Cancer
Birthplace: Rostov, Russia
Died: July 7, 1954
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