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Jaroslav Heyrovský

Jaroslav Heyrovský

Jaroslav Heyrovský and Rudolf Brdička
BornDecember 20, 1890
Prague, Bohemia
DiedMarch 27 1967 (aged 76)
Cambridge, England
FieldPolarography, Electroanalytical chemistry
InstitutionsRoyal Air Force
Alma materCharles University
University College, London
Academic advisor  Sir William Ramsay
W.C.Mc.C. Lewis
F.G. Donnan
Known forElectroanalytical chemistry
Notable prizes Nobel Prize for Chemistry (1959)


Jaroslav Heyrovský (pronounced [ˈjaroslaf ˈɦɛjrofskiː] ) (December 20, 1890 – March 27, 1967) was a Czech chemist and inventor. Heyrovský was the inventor of the polarographic method, father of electroanalytical chemistry, and recipient of the Nobel Prize in 1959.

The main field of work of Heyrovský was polarography.

Jaroslav Heyrovský was born in Prague on 20th December, 1890, the fifth child of Leopold Heyrovský, Professor of Roman Law at the Charles University in Prague, and his wife Clara, née Hanl.

He obtained his early education at secondary school till 1909 when he began his study of chemistry, physics and mathematics at the Charles University in Prague. From 1910 to 1914 he continued his studies at University College, London, under Professors Sir William Ramsay, W.C.Mc.C. Lewis and F.G. Donnan, taking his B.Sc. degree in 1913. He was particularly interested in working with Professor Donnan, on electrochemistry.

During the First World War Heyrovský did his war service in a military hospital as a dispensing chemist and radiologist, which enabled him to continue his studies and to take his Ph.D. degree in Prague in 1918 and D.Sc. in London in 1921.

Heyrovský started his university career as assistant to Professor B. Brauner in the Institute of Analytical Chemistry of the Charles University, Prague; he was promoted to Associate Professor in 1922 and in 1926 he became the first Professor of Physical Chemistry at this University.

Heyrovský's invention of the polarographic method dates from 1922 and he concentrated his whole further scientific activity on the development of this new branch of electrochemistry. He formed a school of Czech polarographers in the University, and was himself in the forefront of polarographic research.

In 1950 the Professor was appointed Director of the newly established Polarographic Institute which has been incorporated into the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences since 1952.

Many universities and seats of learning have honoured Professor Heyrovský. He was elected Fellow of University College, London, in 1927, and received honorary doctorates of the Technical University, Dresden, in 1955, the University of Warsaw in 1956, the University Aix-Marseille in 1959, and the University of Paris in 1960. He was granted honorary membership of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, Boston, Mass., in 1933; of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences in 1955; the Indian Academy of Sciences, Bangalore, in 1955; the Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw, in 1962; was elected Corresponding Member of the German Academy of Sciences, Berlin, in 1955; member of the German Academy of Natural Scientists, Leopoldina (Halle-Saale) in 1956; Foreign Member of the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences, Copenhagen, in 1962; Vice-President of the International Union of Physics from 1951 to 1957; President and first honorary member of the Polarographic Society, London; honorary member of the Polarographic Society of Japan; honorary member of the Chemical Societies of Czechoslovakia, Austria, Poland, England and India.

In Czechoslovakia he was awarded the State Prize, First Grade, in 1951, and in 1955 the Order of the Czechoslovak Republic.

Heyrovský has lectured on polarography in the United States of America in 1933, the USSR in 1934, England in 1946, Sweden in 1947, the People's Republic of China in 1958, and in U.A.R. (Egypt) in 1960 and 1961.

In 1926 Professor Heyrovský married Marie Koranová, and there are two children of the marriage, a daughter, Judith, and a son, Michael.

From Nobel Lectures, Chemistry 1942-1962, Elsevier Publishing Company, Amsterdam, 1964

This autobiography/biography was written at the time of the award and later published in the book series Les Prix Nobel/Nobel Lectures. The information is sometimes updated with an addendum submitted by the Laureate. To cite this document, always state the source as shown above.

Jaroslav Heyrovský died on March 27, 1967. He was interred in the Vyšehrad cemetery in Prague.

Heyrovský crater on the Moon was named in his honour.

Preceded by
Frederick Sanger
Nobel Prize in Chemistry
Succeeded by
Willard Libby


  • J. A. V. Butler; P. Zuman (1967). "Jaroslav Heyrovský. 1890-1967". Biographical Memoirs of Fellows of the Royal Society 13: 167-191.
  • P. Zuman (2001). "Electrolysis with a Dropping Mercury Electrode: J. Heyrovsky's Contribution to Electrochemistry". Critical Reviews in Analytical Chemistry 31 (4): 281 – 289. doi:10.1080/20014091076767.
  • J. Barek, A. G. Fogg, A. Muck, J. Zima (2001). "Polarography and Voltammetry at Mercury Electrodes". Critical Reviews in Analytical Chemistry 31 (4): 291 - 309. doi:10.1080/20014091076776.
  • Jií Barek, Jií Zima (2003). "Eighty Years of Polarography - History and Future". Electroanalysis 15 (5-6): 467 - 472. doi:10.1002/elan.200390055.
  • F. Calascibetta (1997). "Chemistry in Czechoslovakia between 1919 and 1939: J. Heyrovský and the Prague Polarographic School". Centaurus 39 (4): 368-381. doi:10.1111/j.1600-0498.1997.tb00043.x.

This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License. It uses material from the Wikipedia article "Jaroslav_Heyrovský". A list of authors is available in Wikipedia.
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