Walther Nernst: The Innovator of Modern Thermodynamics

This image shows the physists Walther Nernst, a renowned scientist who advanced the world of phyics. Walther Nernst: A Guiding Force in Thermodynamic

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About Walther Nernst

Walther Hermann Nernst was born on June 25, 1864, in Briesen, West Prussia (now Wąbrzeźno, Poland). He married Emma Lohmeyer in 1892 with whom he had five children. Nernst was a man of science, curious and passionate, which led him to pursue a career in physics and chemistry.

Nernst began his education at the University of Zürich, then transferred to the University of Berlin and finally to the University of Graz, where he completed his doctorate in 1887. His deep-rooted interest in understanding the natural world and its mechanisms led him to become a physicist.

Nernst's Discoveries

Nernst's most significant discovery was the third law of thermodynamics, also known as Nernst's theorem or Nernst's postulate. His work elucidated the properties of molecules, particularly at extremely low temperatures. It also provided critical insight into quantum theory.

His research was fraught with challenges due to the unexplored territory of low temperature physics. Nonetheless, his perseverance led to significant scientific advancements and a deeper understanding of the physical world.

Nernst's Key Achievements

For his pioneering work in thermodynamics, Nernst was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1920. He also made significant contributions to electrochemistry, formulating the Nernst equation. Nernst was considered a central figure in physical chemistry and thermodynamics during his lifetime.

Nernst's Formulas

Nernst is known for the Nernst equation, which relates the reduction potential of an electrochemical reaction (half-cell or full cell reaction) to the standard electrode potential, temperature, and activities of the chemical species undergoing reduction and oxidation.

Introduction to the Nernst Equation:

E = E0 - (RT/nF) × ln(Q)


  1. E: the reduction potential of the cell under nonstandard conditions
  2. E0: the standard electrode potential
  3. R: the universal gas constant
  4. T: the absolute temperature
  5. n: the number of moles of electrons exchanged in the electrochemical reaction
  6. F: the Faraday constant, representing the amount of electric charge per one mole of electrons
  7. Q: the reaction quotient, which is the ratio of the concentrations of the products of the reaction to the concentrations of the reactants

Walther Nernst Tutorials and Calculators

The following tutorials and calculators are influenced by the work the great physicist Walther Nernst, each calculator contains a tutorial that explains Walther Nernst in the field