Chemists study the makeup and qualities of matter. They research and study these qualities in order to learn more about the world that we live in. Below is a grouping of some of the world’s most famous chemists. These individuals have made discoveries that have helped to advance and modernize the world that we live in today.
|Robert Boyle (1627-1691)
Known For: Boyle’s law
Many regard Boyle as one of the founders of modern chemistry. He established Boyle’s law, which says that there is an inversely proportional relationship between absolute volume and pressure of a gas so long as the temperature is kept steady and within a closed system.
|Joseph Priestley (1733-1804)
Known For: Isolated oxygen and discovered several gases
Priestely often given credit for the discovery of oxygen, something that he called “dephlogistacted air.” He also invented soda water and is famous for isolating several other gases.
|Antoine Lavoisier (1743-1794)
Known For: Naming of oxygen and hydrogen
Known as the “father of modern chemistry,” he named hydrogen and oxygen as well as predicted the existence of silicon. He also helped to create the metric system and make a list of the elements. He also found that matter’s mass remains the same regardless of form or shape.
|John Dalton (1766-1844)
Known For: Pioneer of modern atomic theory
John Dalton was the very first person to explain atomic behavior based on weight measurements. He also created what is now called Dalton’s Law of Partial Pressures.
|Humphry Davy (1778-1829)
Known For: Discovered chlorine and iodine
Humphry Davy was the chemical superintendent at the Pneumatic Institution where he studied therapeutic methods of using different gases. Besides his work to help discover chlorine and iodine, Davy is known for making the suggestion that nitrous oxide could be used as an anesthetic for surgery on humans.
|Michael Faraday (1791-1867)
Known For: Contributions to electrochemistry
Faraday discovered two new compunds of carbon and chlorine, experimented on diffusion of gases, created an early version of the Bunsen burner, liquified gasses and discovered the laws of electrolysis.
|Louis Pasteur (1822-1895)
Known For: Discoveries involving tartaric acid, chiral molecules and crystallography
Pasteur discovered the molecular reasons for the asymmetry found in some crystals. His writings on crystallography garnered him much attention and led to him getting a position as a professor of chemistry at Strasbourg College.
|Alfred Nobel (1833-1896)
Known For: Invented dynamite and explosives. Started Nobel Prize organization
Nobel created various explosives, the most well-known being dynamite. By the time of his death he had over 350 patents. He used his fortunes to create the Nobel Prize awards posthumously.
|Dmitri Mendeleev (1834-1907)
Known For: Periodic law and created version of the periodic table
Mendeleev was an inventor and chemist who formulated the Periodic Law and even made his own periodic table. He used this table to make corrections to the properties of elements as well as to make predictions about the charicteristics of potential elements yet to be discovered.
|Svante Arrhenius (1859-1927)
Known For: Electrolytic theory of dissociation
Known as one of the founders of physical chemistry, Arrhenius was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work involving the electrolytic theory of dissociation.
|George Washington Carver (1864-1943)
Known For: Agricultural chemistry creations, including over 300 uses for the common peanut
George Washington Carver was born a slave and later became an agricultural chemist. The main goal of his work was to improve the lives of poor black and white southern farmers. Some of his greatests accomplishments revolve around the many uses he found for peanuts.
|Marie Curie (1867-1934)
Known For: Research on Radioactivity, discovered Polonium and Radium
Marie Curie was the first woman to win a Nobel Prize. She won this award for her research on radioactivity. She is also the only woman to win two Nobel Prizes; one in physics and one in chemistry. She discovered both Polonium and Radium.
|Fritz Haber (1868-1934)
Known For: Synthesized ammonia and discovered calcium, sodium, potassium and boron
Fritz Haber won the 1918 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his work on synthesizing ammonia, a process which is very improtant for fertilizers and creating explosives. To this day, approximately half of the world’s population relies on his discovered method for making fertilizer. Haber has been called the “father of chemical warfare” because of his work with poisonous gases throughout WWI.
|Otto Hahn (1879-1968)
Known For: Research in areas of radioactivity and radiochemistry
Often called the “father of nuclear chemistry,” Otto Hahn co-discovered nuclear fission in 1938 and was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for it in 1944. Hahn also discovered mesothorium, which was used in medical radiation treatments at a much lower cost than previously available methods.
|Linus Pauling (1901-1994)
Known For: One of the founders of quantum chemistry
Linus Pauling is the only person to win two unshared Nobel Prizes. His first was in Chemistry for his research in the nature of chemical bonds and the other was the Nobel Peace Prize.
|Frederick Sanger (1918-present)
Known For: Research on proteins, insulin and nucleic acids
Sanger is the only person to twice win the Nobel Prize in Chemistry. He won his first Nobel Prize in 1958 for his discovery of the structure of insulin. His second Nobel Prize was awarded in 1980 for his findings on the sequencing of DNA molecules.
|Rosalind Franklin (1920-1958)
Known For: Discovery of DNA structure. X-ray diffraction
This physical chemist was an expert in crystallography and X-ray diffraction. She used these skills to study DNA fiber. She is known for taking a key photograph that led to great insight into the structure of DNA.
|Mario Molina (1943-present)
Known For: Research on how human-made compounds affect the ozone layer
Mario Molina’s work helped to find the Antarctic ozone hole. He won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry for his research that proved that chlorofluorocarbon gases are harmful to the Earth’s ozone layer.
|Ahmed Zewail (1946-present)
Known For: Research on femtochemistry
Zewail is known as the “father of femtochemistry,” an area of physical chemistry which analyzes chemical reactions over very short periods of time. This type of study allows for scientists to see why some chemical reactions take place, but not others. Zewail won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1999 for his work in this field.