Peter Joseph Wilhelm Debye (1884-1966)


Dutch physicist born in Maastricht, in 1884, and died in the same city in 1966.

Studied in Aix-la-Chapelle and obtained the Ph.D. degree in the University of Munich, in 1908. Debye was Physics Professor in Utrecht, Goettingen, Zurich and Leipzig. From 1927 to 1934 was director of Physics Institute in the University of Leipzig and since 1935 of the Max Planck Institute in Berlin. In 1904 went to the USA being appointed Chemistry Professor in the University of Cornell and director of the Chemistry department from 1940 to 1952. Most of his work refer to chemical-physics with special relevance to electrolytes and dipolar momentum analysis. Established a theory of specific heat with some improvements on that proposed by Einstein. Performed important work in the analysis of crystalline powders using X-ray diffraction techniques. Determined the dimensions of gaseous molecules and the interatomic distances using X-rays. This work granted him the Nobel Prize of Chemistry in 1936.