Jacobus Henricus van 't Hoff

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Jacobus Henricus van 't Hoff (30 August 1852 – 1 March 1911) was a Dutch physical and organic chemist and the first winner of the Nobel Prize in chemistry. He is best known for his discoveries in chemical kinetics, chemical equilibrium, osmotic pressure, and stereochemistry. Van 't Hoff's work in these subjects helped found the discipline of physical chemistry as it is today.



The third of seven children, van 't Hoff was born in Rotterdam, the Netherlands. His father was Jacobus Henricus van 't Hoff, a physician, and his mother was Alida Jacoba Kolff.[1] From a young age he was interested in science and nature, and frequently took part in botanical excursions. In his early school years, he showed a strong interest in poetry and philosophy. He considered Lord Byron to be his idol.

Against the wishes of his father, van 't Hoff chose to study chemistry. First, he enrolled at Delft University of Technology in September 1869, and studied until 1871, when he passed his final exam on at 8 July and obtained a degree of chemical technologist[2][3][4]. He passed all his courses in two years, although the time assigned to study was three years[2][3][4]. Then he enrolled at University of Leiden to study chemistry. He then studied in Bonn, Germany with Friedrich Kekulé and in Paris with C. A. Wurtz. He received his doctorate under Eduard Mulder at the University of Utrecht in 1874.[5]

In 1878, van 't Hoff married Johanna Francina Mees. They had two daughters, Johanna Francina (b. 1880) and Aleida Jacoba (b. 1882), and two sons, Jacobus Hendricus (b. 1883) and Govert Jacob (b. 1889). van 't Hoff died at the age of 58, on 1 March 1911, at Steglitz near Berlin from tuberculosis.

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