Nernst, Walther Hermann (välˈtər hĕrˈmän nĕrnst) [key], 1864–1941, German physicist and chemist, a founder of modern physical chemistry. After doing outstanding research on osmotic pressure and electrochemistry, he turned to thermodynamics, establishing in 1906 a new tenet (often called the third law of thermodynamics) that dealt with the behavior of matter at temperatures approaching absolute zero. For his work in thermodynamics he won the 1920 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. He later specialized in electroacoustics and astrophysics. Nernst invented (1898) an electric metallic-filament lamp, a link between the carbon lamp and the incandescent lamp. His works include Theoretical Chemistry from the Standpoint of Avogadro's Rule and Thermodynamics (1893, 5th Eng. ed. 1923) and The New Heat Theorem (1918, tr. 1926).
See biography by K. A. G. Mendelssohn (1973).
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