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Gilbert N. Lewis
Gilbert N Lewis.jpg
Born (1875-10-25)October 25, 1875
Died March 23, 1946(1946-03-23) (aged 70)
Nationality American
Known for Covalent bond
Lewis dot structures
Valence bond theory
Electronic theory of acids and bases
Chemical thermodynamics
Heavy water
Named photon
Explained phosphorescence
Awards Fellow of the Royal Society
Willard Gibbs Award (1924)
Davy Medal (1929)
Scientific career
Fields Physical chemist
Doctoral advisor Theodore William Richards
Doctoral students Michael Kasha
Harold Urey
Glenn T. Seaborg
Joseph Edward Mayer
Influences Irving Langmuir
Merle Randall

Gilbert Newton Lewis ForMemRS (October 25 (or 23), 1875 – March 23, 1946) was an American physical chemist and a former Dean of the College of Chemistry at University of California, Berkeley. Lewis was best known for his discovery of the covalent bond and his concept of electron pairs; his Lewis dot structures and other contributions to valence bond theory have shaped modern theories of chemical bonding. Lewis successfully contributed to chemical thermodynamics, photochemistry, and isotope separation, and is also known for his concept of acids and bases. Lewis also researched on relativity and quantum physics, and in 1926 he coined the term "photon" for the smallest unit of radiant energy.

G. N. Lewis was born in 1875 in Weymouth, Massachusetts. After receiving his PhD in chemistry from Harvard University and studying abroad in Germany and the Philippines, Lewis moved to California in 1912 to teach chemistry at the University of California, Berkeley, where he became the Dean of the College of Chemistry and spent the rest of his life.

As a professor, he incorporated thermodynamic principles into the chemistry curriculum and reformed chemical thermodynamics in a mathematically rigorous manner accessible to ordinary chemists. He began measuring the free energy values related to several chemical processes, both organic and inorganic. In 1916, he also proposed his theory of bonding and added information about electrons in the periodic table of the chemical elements. In 1933, he started his research on isotope separation. Lewis worked with hydrogen and managed to purify a sample of heavy water. He then came up with his theory of acids and bases, and did work in photochemistry during the last years of his life.

Though he was nominated 41 times, G. N. Lewis never won the Nobel Prize in Chemistry, resulting in a major Nobel Prize controversy. On the other hand, Lewis mentored and influenced numerous Nobel laureates at Berkeley including Harold Urey (1934 Nobel Prize), William F. Giauque (1949 Nobel Prize), Glenn T. Seaborg (1951 Nobel Prize), Willard Libby (1960 Nobel Prize), Melvin Calvin (1961 Nobel Prize) and so on, turning Berkeley into one of the world's most prestigious centers for chemistry.

On March 23, 1946, Lewis was found dead in his Berkeley laboratory where he had been working with hydrogen cyanide.

After Lewis' death, his children followed their father's career in chemistry, and the Lewis Hall on the Berkeley campus is named after him.

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