Blog Series on Chemistry Nobel Laureates (Continued from


Jacobus H. van't Hoff 

Born: August 30, 1852, Rotterdam, the Netherlands; Died: March 1, 1911, Berlin, Germany

- Jacobus H. van't Hoff  created a record by winning the  first Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1901. It indicates that he was the best chemist during that time and due to this reason, Nobel Foundation picked him for awarding this prestigious award. The honor came to  him "in recognition of the extraordinary services he has rendered by the discovery of the laws of chemical dynamics and osmotic pressure in solutions".

- Van’t Hoff was a pioneer in the field of stereochemistry and a founding father of Physical Chemistry

- Van't Hoff  was the third of seven children of Jacobus Henricus van't Hoff, Sr. who is  a physician.  Since his childhood days, van’t Hoff was interested in science and nature, and frequently used to go to botanical excursions. In his early school years, he showed a strong interest in poetry and philosophy.  van't Hoff chose to study chemistry against the wishes of his father.

- Van’t Hoff was brilliant in his studies and completed all his courses in two years against the duration of three years.   He received his doctorate degree  under the guidance of Eduard Mulder at the University of Utrecht, Neterlands in 1874.  

- Van't Hoff worked as a professor of chemistry, mineralogy, and geology at the University of Amsterdam for 18 years and became the  chairman of the chemistry department. In 1896, van't Hoff moved to University of Berlin, Germany and worked there  till his death. 

- Van’t Hoff’s  work showed that very dilute solutions follow mathematical laws that closely resemble the laws describing the behavior of gases. van 't Hoff formulated the theory of the tetrahedral carbon atom and laid the foundations for optical activity and  stereochemistry.  His theory about osmotic pressure explains how concentrations even out in solutions that are separated by a membrane that allows the solvent to pass through but not the dissolved substance. His pioneering work helped found the modern theory of chemical affinitychemical equilibriumchemical kinetics, and chemical thermodynamics


(Nobel Series on Chemistry to be continued...)