1875-1946

Gilbert Newton Lewis

Location: First Floor, Room 138, North Wall, Sequence 2

Source: Chemical Heritage Foundation

Sponsor: James F. Harrison


Lewis was one of the giants of physical chemistry during the first half of the 20th century. After his Ph.D. with T. W. Richards at Harvard (1899) and brief periods on the faculty there and at MIT he went in 1912 to the University of California, Berkeley where he transformed the chemistry department from one which paid little attention to research to one of the pre-eminent departments in the country. He is most known for his research in thermodynamics (his 1923 book with Randall became the "bible" in the field), his proposal of the shared electron pair bond (summarized in his 1923 book "Valence and the Structure of Atoms and Molecules"), his description of acids and bases as electron-pair acceptors and donors, and for his researches on fluorescence, phosphorescence and theories of color in organic molecules. Lewis was always personally active in the laboratory, and it was while working there that he suddenly died.