The following people are considered by Pantheon to be the top 10 most legendary Chemists of all time. This list of famous Chemists is sorted by HPI (Historical Popularity Index), a metric that aggregates information on a biography’s online popularity. Visit the rankings page to view the entire list of Chemists.
With an HPI of 87.58, Alfred Nobel is the most famous Chemist. His biography has been translated into 149 different languages on wikipedia.
Alfred Bernhard Nobel ( noh-BEL, Swedish: [ˈǎlfrɛd nʊˈbɛlː] (listen); 21 October 1833 – 10 December 1896) was a Swedish chemist, engineer, inventor, businessman, and philanthropist. He is best known for having bequeathed his fortune to establish the Nobel Prize, though he also made several important contributions to science, holding 355 patents in his lifetime. Nobel's most famous invention was dynamite, a safer and easier means of harnessing the explosive power of nitroglycerin; it was patented in 1867 and was soon used worldwide for mining and infrastructure development. Nobel displayed an early aptitude for science and learning, particularly in chemistry and languages; he became fluent in six languages and filed his first patent at age 24. He embarked on many business ventures with his family, most notably owning Bofors, an iron and steel producer that he developed into a major manufacturer of cannons and other armaments. After reading an erroneous obituary condemning him as a war profiteer, Nobel was inspired to bequeath his fortune to the Nobel Prize institution, which would annually recognize those who "conferred the greatest benefit to humankind". The synthetic element nobelium was named after him, and his name and legacy also survives in companies such as Dynamit Nobel and AkzoNobel, which descend from mergers with companies he founded. Nobel was elected a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, which, pursuant to his will, would be responsible for choosing the Nobel laureates in physics and in chemistry.
With an HPI of 76.15, Svante Arrhenius is the 2nd most famous Chemist. His biography has been translated into 87 different languages.
Svante August Arrhenius ( ə-REE-nee-əs, -RAY-, Swedish: [ˈsvânːtɛ aˈrěːnɪɵs]; 19 February 1859 – 2 October 1927) was a Swedish scientist. Originally a physicist, but often referred to as a chemist, Arrhenius was one of the founders of the science of physical chemistry. He received the Nobel Prize for Chemistry in 1903, becoming the first Swedish Nobel laureate. In 1905, he became director of the Nobel Institute, where he remained until his death.Arrhenius was the first to use principles of physical chemistry to estimate the extent to which increases in atmospheric carbon dioxide are responsible for the Earth's increasing surface temperature. His work played an important role in the emergence of modern climate science. In the 1960s, Charles David Keeling demonstrated that the quantity of human-caused carbon dioxide emissions into the air is enough to cause global warming.The Arrhenius equation, Arrhenius acid, Arrhenius base, lunar crater Arrhenius, Martian crater Arrhenius, the mountain of Arrheniusfjellet, and the Arrhenius Labs at Stockholm University were so named to commemorate his contributions to science.
With an HPI of 75.59, Jöns Jacob Berzelius is the 3rd most famous Chemist. His biography has been translated into 76 different languages.
Baron Jöns Jacob Berzelius (Swedish: [jœns ˈjɑ̌ːkɔb bæˈʂěːlɪɵs]; by himself and his contemporaries named only Jacob Berzelius, 20 August 1779 – 7 August 1848) was a Swedish chemist. Berzelius is considered, along with Robert Boyle, John Dalton, and Antoine Lavoisier, to be one of the founders of modern chemistry. Berzelius became a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in 1808 and served from 1818 as its principal functionary. He is known in Sweden as the "Father of Swedish Chemistry". Berzelius Day is celebrated on 20 August in honour of him.Although Berzelius began his career as a physician, his enduring contributions were in the fields of electrochemistry, chemical bonding and stoichiometry. In particular, he is noted for his determination of atomic weights and his experiments that led to a more complete understanding of the principles of stoichiometry, which is the branch of chemistry pertaining to the quantitative relationships between elements in chemical compounds and chemical reactions and that these occur in definite proportions. This understanding came to be known as the "Law of Constant Proportions".Berzelius was a strict empiricist, expecting that any new theory must be consistent with the sum of contemporary chemical knowledge. He developed improved methods of chemical analysis, which were required to develop the basic data in support of his work on stoichiometry. He investigated isomerism, allotropy, and catalysis, phenomena that owe their names to him. Berzelius was among the first to articulate the differences between inorganic compounds and organic compounds. Among the many minerals and elements he studied, he is credited with discovering cerium and selenium, and with being the first to isolate silicon and thorium. Following on his interest in mineralogy, Berzelius synthesized and chemically characterized new compounds of these and other elements. Berzelius demonstrated the use of an electrochemical cell to decompose certain chemical compounds into pairs of electrically opposite constituents. From this research, he articulated a theory that came to be known as electrochemical dualism, contending that chemical compounds are oxide salts, bonded together by electrostatic interactions. This theory, while useful in some contexts, came to be seen as insufficient. Berzelius's work with atomic weights and his theory of electrochemical dualism led to his development of a modern system of chemical formula notation that showed the composition of any compound both qualitatively and quantitatively. His system abbreviated the Latin names of the elements with one or two letters and applied superscripts to designate the number of atoms of each element present in the compound. Later, chemists changed to use of subscripts rather than superscripts.
With an HPI of 67.67, Theodor Svedberg is the 4th most famous Chemist. His biography has been translated into 62 different languages.
Theodor Svedberg (30 August 1884 – 25 February 1971) was a Swedish chemist and Nobel laureate for his research on colloids and proteins using the ultracentrifuge. Svedberg was active at Uppsala University from the mid 1900s to late 1940s. While at Uppsala, Svedberg started as a docent before becoming the university's physical chemistry head in 1912. After leaving Uppsala in 1949, Svedberg was in charge of the Gustaf Werner Institute until 1967. Apart from his 1926 Nobel Prize, Svedberg was named a Foreign Member of the Royal Society in 1944 and became part of the National Academy of Sciences in 1945.
With an HPI of 66.10, Arne Tiselius is the 5th most famous Chemist. His biography has been translated into 59 different languages.
Arne Wilhelm Kaurin Tiselius (10 August 1902 – 29 October 1971) was a Swedish biochemist who won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1948 "for his research on electrophoresis and adsorption analysis, especially for his discoveries concerning the complex nature of the serum proteins."
With an HPI of 61.99, Bengt I. Samuelsson is the 6th most famous Chemist. His biography has been translated into 44 different languages.
Bengt Ingemar Samuelsson (born 21 May 1934) is a Swedish biochemist. He shared with Sune K. Bergström and John R. Vane the 1982 Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine for discoveries concerning prostaglandins and related substances.
With an HPI of 61.83, Sune Bergström is the 7th most famous Chemist. His biography has been translated into 48 different languages.
Karl Sune Detlof Bergström (10 January 1916 – 15 August 2004) was a Swedish biochemist. In 1975, he was appointed to the Nobel Foundation Board of Directors in Sweden, and was awarded the Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize from Columbia University, together with Bengt I. Samuelsson. He shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine with Bengt I. Samuelsson and John R. Vane in 1982, for discoveries concerning prostaglandins and related substances. Bergström was elected a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences in 1965, and its President in 1983. In 1965, he was also elected a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Engineering Sciences. He was elected a Foreign Honorary Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1966. He was also a member of both the United States National Academy of Sciences and the American Philosophical Society. Bergström was awarded the Cameron Prize for Therapeutics of the University of Edinburgh in 1977. In 1985 he was appointed member of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences. He was awarded the Illis quorum in 1985.In 1943, Bergström married Maj Gernandt. He had two sons, the businessman Rurik Reenstierna, with Maj Gernandt, and the evolutionary geneticist Svante Pääbo, from an extramarital affair with the Estonian chemist Karin Pääbo. Both sons were born in 1955, and Rurik had learned about existence of Svante only around 2004.
With an HPI of 60.05, Johan August Arfwedson is the 8th most famous Chemist. His biography has been translated into 33 different languages.
Johan August Arfwedson (12 January 1792 – 28 October 1841) was a Swedish chemist who discovered the chemical element lithium in 1817 by isolating it as a salt.
With an HPI of 58.83, Johan Gottlieb Gahn is the 9th most famous Chemist. His biography has been translated into 31 different languages.
Johan Gottlieb Gahn (19 August 1745 – 8 December 1818) was a Swedish chemist and metallurgist who discovered manganese in 1774.Gahn studied in Uppsala 1762 – 1770 and became acquainted with chemists Torbern Bergman and Carl Wilhelm Scheele. 1770 he settled in Falun, where he introduced improvements in copper smelting, and participated in building up several factories, including those for vitriol, sulfur and red paint. He was the chemist for The Swedish Board of Mines Bergskollegium from 1773 – 1817. Gahn was however very reluctant to publish his scientific findings himself, but freely communicated them to Bergman and Scheele. One of Gahn's discoveries was that manganese dioxide could be reduced to manganese metal using carbon, becoming the first to isolate this element in its metal form. In 1784, Gahn was elected a member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. He also made a managerial career in Swedish mining.
With an HPI of 58.63, Axel Fredrik Cronstedt is the 10th most famous Chemist. His biography has been translated into 30 different languages.
Baron Axel Fredrik Cronstedt (/kroonstet/ 23 December 1722 – 19 August 1765) was a Swedish mineralogist and chemist who discovered the element nickel in 1751 as a mining expert with the Bureau of Mines. Cronstedt is considered a founder of modern mineralogy, for introducing the blowpipe as a tool for mineralogists, and for proposing that the mineral kingdom be organized on the basis of chemical analysis in his book Försök til mineralogie, eller mineral-rikets upställning (“An attempt at mineralogy or arrangement of the Mineral Kingdom”, 1758).
Pantheon has 20 people classified as chemists born between 1694 and 1934. Of these 20, 1 (5.00%) of them are still alive today. The most famous living chemists include Bengt I. Samuelsson. The most famous deceased chemists include Alfred Nobel, Svante Arrhenius, and Jöns Jacob Berzelius. As of April 2022, 1 new chemists have been added to Pantheon including Anna Sundström.
1833 - 1896
1859 - 1927
1779 - 1848
1884 - 1971
1902 - 1971
1916 - 2004
1792 - 1841
1745 - 1818
1722 - 1765
1797 - 1858
1735 - 1784
1694 - 1768
Which Chemists were alive at the same time? This visualization shows the lifespans of the 16 most globally memorable Chemists since 1700.