Walther Hermann Nernst – developer of Nernst equation

Walther Hermann Nernst – developer of Nernst equation

Category : Personalities
Published by : Data Research Analyst, Worldofchemicals.com

Biography & contributions

Walther Hermann Nernst, a German physical chemist, physicist, Nobel laureate born on June 25, 1864 – died on November 18, 1941. Nernst known for his research works like inventing electric lamp, describing third law of thermodynamics, developing Nernst equation, Nernst effect, Nernst heat theorm, Nernst-planck equation and developed electric piano.

Nernst was awarded with Nobel Prize in chemistry for working on third of thermodynamics in the year of 1920, Franklin medal in the year of 1928.

In 1888 nernst first reported the concept of the solubility product and devised the Nernst Equation. Nernst Equation is a mathematical formula used to determine the equilibrium reduction potential of a half-cell in an electrochemical cell.

In 1891 nernst proposed Nernst Distribution Law, to explain behavior of liquids or solids which are partially incapable of being mixed.

In 1893 he introduced a theory to describe the disintegration of ionic compounds into water.

Nernst also conducted important research in electro-acoustic and astrophysics, and in the year of 1897 he invented Nernst Glower instrument.

In 1903 nernst suggested use of buffer solutions.

In 1911 he was a key organizer of the Solvay Conference in Brussels, the world's first major conference for physicists.

In 1918 nernst explained the photo-induced chain reaction.

Nernst equation


Nernst equation relates the reduction potential of a half-cell at any point in time to the standard electrode potential, temperature, activity, and reaction quotient of the underlying reactions and species used. Nernst equation gives a formula that relates the numerical values of the concentration gradient to the electric gradient that balances it.

The nernst equation can be mentioned as

Ecell = E0cell - (RT/nF)lnQ

Where

Ecell = cell potential under nonstandard conditions (V)

E0cell = cell potential under standard conditions

R = gas constant [Units: 8.31 (volt-coulomb)/(mol-K)]

T = temperature (K)

n = number of moles of electrons exchanged in the electrochemical reaction (mol)

F = Faraday's constant [Units: 96500 coulombs/mol]

Q = reaction quotient

The Nernst equation has a physiological application when used to calculate the potential of an ion of charge z across a membrane. This potential is determined using the concentration of the ion both inside and outside the cell.

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