Peter Debye, Dutch physical chemist

Peter Debye, Dutch physical chemist

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Credit: EMILIO SEGRE VISUAL ARCHIVES/AMERICAN INSTITUTE OF PHYSICS/SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

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Caption: Peter Debye (1884-1966), Dutch physical chemist. Debye originally trained as an electrical engineer, turning to physics for his PhD in 1908. He was instrumental in the discovery and study of the dipolar nature of some molecules. Those molecules with a positive charge on one portion of their structure and a negative charge on another may be made to align with an electrical field. This work led to his 1936 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. He also developed the modern model of ionic solutions, proving that most salts were completely ionised in solution. In 1940 he moved to the USA, becoming a US citizen in 1946. Photographed aged 81.

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