The Svedberg

  • From:

    Uppsala University | Uppsala, Sweden

  • Year:


  • Subject:

    Life Science

  • Award:


  • Citation:

    For the development of the ultra-centrifuge and its use in determining the molecular weights of proteins.

The(odor) Svedberg was born in Flerang, Valbo, Sweden in 1884. He entered Uppsala University in January 1904 and gained his Bachelor of Arts degree one year later in 1905, his Master's degree in 1907, and his Ph.D. in 1908. Svedberg was to spend the whole of his career at Uppsala University. He accepted a post as assistant in the Chemical Institute at Uppsala in 1905 and in 1907 he was given the additional position of lecturer in chemistry in the university. In 1912, he was elected Professor of Physical Chemistry. He was made emeritus in 1949, and was Director of the Gustaf Werner Institute for Nuclear Chemistry in the University.

Svedberg's work focused on colloids and macromolecular compounds. In his doctoral thesis, he described a new method of producing colloid particles and gave convincing evidence of the validity of the theory founded by Einstein and von Smoluchowski on the Brownian movements, thereby providing definite proof of the existence of molecules. He studied the physical properties of colloids, such as their diffusion, light absorption, and sedimentation, from which he concluded that the gas laws could be applied to disperse systems. For the study of sedimentation, he constructed his ultracentrifuge, where large molecules in solution, such as proteins, carbohydrates, and high polymers were able to be investigated. This invention discovered that proteins consist of macromolecules.

Later, Svedberg explored the problems of nuclear chemistry and radiation biology. In the 1930s, he and his colleagues built their first accelerator, a neutron generator. Svedberg was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry in 1926.

Information as of 1949