Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

Walther Nernst

25 June 1864, Briesen, West Prussia – 18 November 1941, Oberzibelle/Upper Lusatia

Walter Nernst became a professor of physical chemistry at Friedrich-Wilhelms-Universität in 1905 and director of the Institute of Physics in 1925. He was Rector of the university in the 1921/22 academic year. Nernst was professor of experimental physics from 1924 until retiring with emeritus status in 1933.

He was a co-founder of modern physical chemistry and did pioneering work in the field of electro- and thermochemistry. Among other things, he formulated the Nernst Distribution Law in 1890, invented the Nernst lamp (a precursor of the light bulb) in 1897, and discovered the Nernst Law of Electrical Nerve Stimulus Threshold in 1899. In 1906 he discovered the Nernst heat theorem, better known as the Third Law of Thermodynamics. Nernst was awarded the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1920 in recognition of his work in thermochemistry.

The chemistry/physics lecture-hall building on Humboldt-Universität's Adlershof Campus (natural sciences) is called Walther-Nernst-Haus in his honour.