Biography of Jaroslav Heyrovský
Jaroslav Heyrovsky was born in Prague on 20th December, 1890, the fifth
child of Leopold Heyrovsky, Professor of Roman Law at the Czech University of
Prague, and his wife Clara, née Hanl.
He obtained his early education at secondary school till 1909 when he began
his study of chemistry, physics and mathematics at the Czech University,
Prague. From 1910 to 1914 he continued his studies at University College,
London, under Professors Sir William Ramsay, W. C. Mc. C. Lewis and F. G.
Donnan, taking his B.Sc. degree in 1913. He was particularly interested
in working with Professor Donnan, on electrochemistry.
During the First World War Heyrovsky did his war service in a military hospital
as dispensing chemist and radiologist, which enabled him to continue his
studies and to take his Ph.D. degree in Prague in 1918 and D.Sc. in London
Heyrovsky started his university career as assistant to Professor B. Brauner
in the Institute of Analytical Chemistry of the Charles University, Prague;
he was promoted to Associate Professor in 1922 and in 1926 he became the
first Professor of Physical Chemistry at this University.
Heyrovsky's invention of the polarographic method dates from 1922 and he
concentrated his whole further scientific activity on the development of
this new branch of electrochemistry. He formed a school of Czech polarographers
in the University, and was himself in the forefront of polarographic research.
The original Polarograph
In 1950 the Professor was appointed Director of the newly established Polarographic
Institute which has been incorporated into the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences
since 1952 (now J. Heyrovský
Institute of Physical Chemistry)
R. Brdicka (left) and J. Heyrovskı (right)
Many universities and seats of learning have honoured Professor Heyrovsky.
He was elected Fellow of University College, London, in 1927, and received
honorary doctorates of the Technical University, Dresden, in 1955, the University
of Warsaw in 1956, the University Aix-Marseille in 1959, and the University
of Paris in 1960. He was granted honorary membership of the American Academy
of Arts and Sciences, Boston, Mass., in 1933; of the Hungarian Academy of
Sciences in 1955; the Indian Academy of Sciences, Bangalore, in 1955; the
Polish Academy of Sciences, Warsaw, in 1962; was elected Corresponding Member
of the German Academy of Sciences, Berlin, in 1955; member of the German
Academy of Natural Scientists, Leopoldina (Halle-Saale) in 1956; Foreign
Member of the Royal Danish Academy of Sciences, Copenhagen, in 1962; Vice-President
of the International Union of Physics from 1951 to 1957; President and first
honorary member of the Polarographic Society, London; honorary member of
the Polarographic Society of Japan; honorary member of the Chemical Societies
of Czechoslovakia, Austria, Poland, England and India.
In Czechoslovakia he was awarded the State Prize, First Grade, in 1951,
and in 1955 the Order of the Czechoslovak Republic.
Heyrovsky has lectured on polarography in the United States of America in
1933, the USSR in 1934, England in 1946, Sweden in 1947, the People's Republic
of China in 1958, and in U.A.R. (Egypt) in 1960 and 1961.
He received the Nobel Prize in Chemistry
in 1959, "for his discovery and development of the polarographic methods of
In 1926 Professor Heyrovsky married Marie Koranová, and there are two children
of the marriage, a daughter, Judith, and a son, Michael.
Jaroslav Heyrovsky died in 1967.
From "Nobel Lectures", Chemistry 1942-1962.
The Nobel Foundation