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Electrochemical Engineering by John N. Harb, Thomas F. Fuller

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Photograph depicting Jaroslav Heyrovský.
Figure depicting Heyrovsky's original drawing of the hanging mercury drop electrode apparatus.

Heyrovsky's original drawing of the hanging mercury drop electrode apparatus.

Source: Heyrovsky 1924. Reproduced with permission of Royal Society of Chemistry.

Jaroslav Heyrovský was born in Prague, Czechoslovakia, on December 20, 1890. After a year at Czech University, where his father was Rector, he moved to University College, London; he received his B.Sc. in 1913. He continued graduate studies on the electrochemistry of aluminum under the direction of Frederick G. Donnan, the eminent Irish physical chemist. One of the challenges for these studies was the oxidation of aluminum during the experiment. Their innovation was to study flowing aluminum so that the surface was continually refreshed. The advantages of a liquid metal surface that is continually renewed foreshadowed his subsequent work on mercury electrodes.

Like so many of the individuals featured in these biographies, his life was shaken by the World Wars. Perhaps because of his single-minded focus, for Heyrovský these were more distractions than life-altering moments. After just a year conducting research in London, World War I broke out in 1914. Jaroslav happened to be in Prague visiting his family at this time and could not return to London. He was called up to service in the Austro-Hungarian Army, but served ...

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