The field of electrochemistry began as an exploration of fundamental forces at work in the universe—among them, the relationship between electricity and chemical change. One of the earliest basic findings was of the electrochemical nature of acidity. But electrochemistry has many applications beyond the research institute or university laboratory, and it provided the start of many modern corporations. Electrochemistry is now a cornerstone of industry, technology, and medicine.
Humphry Davy rose meteorically to become a leader in the reformed chemistry movement of the late 18th century and a pioneer in the new field of electrochemistry.
Berzelius, an accomplished experimenter in the field of electrochemistry, was given to running programs of hundreds of experiments and then deriving organized generalizations from them. He is best known for his experiments that established the law of constant proportions.
As a young man in London, Michael Faraday attended science lectures by the great Sir Humphry Davy. He went on to work for Davy and became an influential scientist in his own right, most famous for his contributions to the understanding of electricity and electrochemistry.
Svante Arrhenius, a founding father of physical chemistry, received the 1903 Nobel Prize for his electrolytic theory of dissociation, which states that molecules of acids, bases, and salts dissociate into ions when dissolved in water.
The race for a commercially viable route to aluminum was won in 1886 by two young men working independently—Paul Héroult in France and Charles M. Hall, with the assistance of his sister Julia, in the United States.
An American inventor and entrepreneur, Edward G. Acheson discovered silicon carbide, which he called "carborundum."
Herbert Henry Dow, founder of the Dow Chemical Company, was an early electrochemical pioneer who mined the ancient seas under Midland, Michigan, and used electrolysis to obtain useful chemicals from the brine.
The Danish chemist Søren Sørensen introduced the concept of pH in 1909 as a convenient way of expressing acidity—the negative logarithm of hydrogen ion concentration.
Arnold O. Beckman invented the first commercially successful electronic pH meter in 1934. Today Beckman Coulter (formerly Beckman Instruments) manufactures and markets instrument systems for conducting basic scientific research, new product research, and clinical diagnosis—and, of course, for students at all levels.