Walther Hermann Nernst won the 1920 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work on thermochemistry.
Born on the 25th of June 1864 in Briesen, West Prussia, Walther Hermann Nernst was the son of a district judge. During his childhood he was educated at a school in Graudentz. This was followed by attending the Universities of Zurich, Berlin and Graz. His initial studies were in the fields of physics and maths. This was complemented by his studies in Wurzburg in which he graduated in 1887 with his thesis on electromotive forces produced by magnetism.
Nernst's third law of thermodynamics involves how matter behaves as they approached absolute zero.
Some of the notable contribution to the field of chemistry that Nernst made was in calculating chemical affinity which is critical to the third law of thermodynamics. According to the third law of thermodynamics “"it is impossible by any procedure, no matter how idealised, to reduce any system to the absolute zero of temperature in a finite number of operations". In other words the entropy of a pure substance approaches zero as the absolute temperature approaches zero.
He is considered to be a pioneer in the field of physical chemistry. He made notable contributions to electrochemistry, thermodynamics, solid state chemistry and photochemistry.
In 1905 Nernst proposed his third law of thermodynamics which was concerned with how matter behaved as they approached absolute zero. This helped in calculating the effects of temperature and equilibrium in various chemical reactions.
Nernst was considered to have a mechanically inclined mind. His invention had practical uses in the industry. He invented an electric lamp that used an incandescent ceramic rod. This lamp succeeded the carbon lamp that produced light using an electric arc and was the forerunner of the incandescent lamp or bulb that you use in your homes today. His lamps were replaced by lamps that used tungsten and tantalum filaments.