1779-1848

Jöns Jacob Berzelius

Location: Third Floor, West Wing, South Wall, Sequence 1

Source: Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences

Sponsor: Jeffrey S. Ledford


Berzelius was one of the founders of modern chemistry. He introduced the modern chemical symbols for the elements and their use in formulas for compounds, discovered several elements (cerium, selenium, thorium), and determined accurate atomic weights using classical gravimetric methods that he introduced. He is perhaps best known for his studies on electrolysis which led to a dualistic theory of chemical combination, that compounds are made up of electrically different (positively and negatively charged) components. He introduced the terms catalysis and isomerism into chemistry. For years a professor at Stockholm, he attracted many students to his laboratory who later became famous in their own right (i.e. Wöhler, Mitscherlich). His textbook and annual reports on progress in chemistry had a profound effect on chemical thought.