J.W. Gibbs

J.W. Gibbs

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Credit: SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Josiah Willard Gibbs (1839-1903), the American physical chemist. His ideas, which founded chemical thermodynamics and statistical mechanics, were expressed in elegantly austere mathematical form, in lesser-known journals, so few chemists understood them. Nevertheless, they were still giving new insights a century after their first appearance. In the 1870's he derived the Gibbs phase rule which deals elegantly with hetero- geneous equilibria, and devised the concept known as the Gibbs function which enables prediction of the feasibility and direction of a hypothetical chemical change. His later research included work on chemical potential and surface adsorption.

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Keywords: chemist, gibbs, j.w., portraits, surname g, thermodynamics

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