Heike Kamerlingh Onnes

Heike Kamerlingh Onnes

Infobox Scientist
box_width = 300px
name = H. Kamerlingh Onnes

image_size = 200px
caption = Heike Kamerlingh Onnes
birth_date = birth date|1853|9|21|df=y
birth_place = Groningen, Netherlands
death_date = nowrap|death date and age|1926|2|21|1853|9|21
death_place = Leiden, Netherlands
residence = Netherlands
citizenship =
nationality = Dutch
ethnicity =
fields = Physicist
workplaces = University of Leiden
alma_mater = Heidelberg University
University of Groningen
doctoral_advisor = Rudolf Adriaan Mees
academic_advisors = Robert Bunsen
Gustav Kirchhoff
Johannes Bosscha
doctoral_students = Jacob Clay
Claude Crommelin
Wander de Haas
Johannes Kuenen
Remmelt Sissingh
Ewoud van Everdingen
Jules Verschaffelt
Pieter Zeeman
notable_students =
known_for = Onnes-effect
author_abbrev_bot =
author_abbrev_zoo =
influences =
influenced =
awards = nowrap|Nobel Prize in Physics (1913)
religion =

footnotes =

Heike Kamerlingh Onnes (September 21, 1853 – February 21, 1926) was a Dutch physicist. His scientific career was spent exploring extremely cold refrigeration techniques and the associated phenomena.


Early years

Kamerlingh Onnes was born in Groningen, Netherlands. His father, Harm Kamerlingh Onnes, was a brickworks owner. His mother was Anna Gerdina Coers of Arnhem.

In 1870, Kamerlingh Onnes attended the University of Groningen. He studied under Robert Bunsen and Gustav Kirchhoff at the University of Heidelberg from 1871 to 1873. Again at Groningen, he obtained his masters in 1878 and a doctorate in 1879. His thesis was "Nieuwe bewijzen voor de aswenteling der aarde" ("tr". New proofs of the rotation of the earth). From 1878 to 1882 he was assistant to Johannes Bosscha, the director of the Polytechnic in Delft, for whom he substituted as lecturer in 1881 and 1882.

From 1882 to 1923 Kamerlingh Onnes served as professor of experimental physics at the University of Leiden. In 1904 he founded a very large cryogenics laboratory and invited other researchers to the location, which made him highly regarded in the scientific community. In 1908, he was the first physicist to liquify helium, using the Hampson-Linde cycle and cryostats. Using the Joule-Thomson effect, he lowered the temperature to less than one degree above absolute zero, reaching 0.9 K. At the time this was the coldest temperature achieved on earth. The original equipment is at the Boerhaave Museum in Leiden.

He was married to Maria Adriana Wilhelmina Elisabeth Bijleveld (m. 1887) and had a child named Albert.


Kamerlingh Onnes conducted (in 1911) electrical analysis of pure metals (mercury, tin and lead) at very low temperatures. Some, such as William Thomson (Lord Kelvin), believed that electrons flowing through a conductor would come to a complete halt or, in other words, metal resisitivity will become infinity at absolute zero. Others, including Kamerlingh Onnes, felt that a conductor's electrical resistance would steadily decrease and drop to nil. Augustus Matthiessen pointed out when the temperature decreases, the metal conductivity usually improves or in other words, the electrical resisitivy usually decreases with temperature [ A. Matthiessen, Philosophical Transactions 1862 and also Philosophical Transactions 1864 ] .At 4.2 kelvin the resistance was zero according to the observation of Kamerlingh Onnes and his co-workers. The drop to zero was experimentally observed to be abrupt. Kamerlingh Onnes stated that the "Mercury has passed into a new state, which on account of its extraordinary electrical properties may be called the superconductive state". He published more articles about the phenomenon, initially referring to it as "supraconductivity" and, only later adopting the term "superconductivity".

Kamerlingh Onnes received widespread recognition for his work, including the 1913 Nobel Prize in Physics for (in the words of the committee) "his investigations on the properties of matter at low temperatures which led, inter alia, to the production of liquid helium".

Death and afterwards

Kamerlingh Onnes died in Leiden. Some of the instruments he devised for his experiments can still be seen at the Boerhaave Museum in Leiden. The apparatus he used to first liquefy helium is on display in the lobby of the physics department at Leiden University, where the low temperature lab is also named in his honor. His student and successor as director of the lab Willem Hendrik Keesom was the first person who was able to solidify helium, in 1926.

The Onnes-effect referring to the creeping of superfluid Helium is named in his honor.

The Kamerlingh Onnes crater on the Moon was named after him by the IAU.


*Matteucci Medal (1910)
*Rumford Medal (1912)
*Nobel Prize for Physics (1913)


* Kamerlingh Onnes, H., "Nieuwe bewijzen voor de aswenteling der aarde." Ph.D. dissertation. Groningen, Netherlands, 1879.
* Kamerlingh Onnes, H., "Algemeene theorie der vloeistoffen." Amsterdam Akad. Verhandl. 21, 1881.
* Kamerlingh Onnes, H., "On the Cryogenic Laboratory at Leyden and on the Production of Very Low Temperature." Comm. Phys. Lab. Univ. Leiden 14, 1894.
* Kamerlingh Onnes, H., "Théorie générale de l'état fluide." Haarlem Arch. Neerl. 30, 1896.
* Kamerlingh Onnes, H., "The Superconductivity of Mercury." Comm. Phys. Lab. Univ. Leiden, Nos. 122 and 124, 1911
* Kamerlingh Onnes, H., "On the Lowest Temperature Yet Obtained." Comm. Phys. Lab. Univ. Leiden, No. 159, 1922.

ee also

* Timeline of low-temperature technology
* Timeline of states of matter and phase transitions
* Coldest temperature achieved on earth
* List of Nobel laureates
* History of superconductivity

Further reading

* Van Delft, D., "Heike Kamerlingh Onnes". Amsterdam, Bert Bakker, 2005. ISBN 90-351-2739-0 (in Dutch; an [http://www.nieuws.leidenuniv.nl/index.php3?m=&c=413 English translation] is in preparation)
* Levelt-Sengers, J. M. H., [http://www.knaw.nl/waals/fluids.html "How fluids unmix : discoveries by the School of Van der Waals and Kamerlingh Onnes"] . Amsterdam, Koninklijke Nederlandse Akademie van Wetenschappen, 2002. ISBN 90-6984-357-9
* Kamerlingh Onnes, Heike, (Gavroglou, Kōstas. [ed.] , and Goudaroulis, Yorgos [ed.] ) "Through measurement to knowledge : the selected papers of Heike Kamerlingh Onnes (1853-1926)". Dordrecht, Boston, Kluwer Academic Publishers, c1991. Goudaroulis, Yorgos. ISBN 0-7923-0825-5
* International Institute of Refrigeration (First International Commission), "Rapports et communications issus du Laboratoire Kamerlingh Onnes". International Congress of Refrigeration (7th; 1936; La Hauge), Amsterdam, 1936.


External links

* Scientists of the Dutch School [http://www.knaw.nl/waals/kamerlingh.html Kamerlingh Onnes] , Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences
* Albert van Helden [http://www.historyofscience.nl/author.cfm?RecordId=18 "Heike Kamerlingh Onnes 1853 – 1926] In: K. van Berkel, A. van Helden, and L. Palm ed., A History of Science in The Netherlands. Survey, Themes and Reference (Leiden: Brill, 1999) 491 - 494.
* Nobel Prize, [http://nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/physics/laureates/1913/onnes-bio.html Physics 1913] -- official site.
* [http://www.museumboerhaave.nl/collectie/e_voorwerpen/Heliumliquefactor.html Helium liquefier, G.J. Flim, Leiden, 1908] [http://www.museumboerhaave.nl/collectie/e_voorwerpen/KamerlinghOnnesLab.html Drawing of the Physics Laboratory in Leiden, 1921] - [http://www.museumboerhaave.nl/e_intro.html Boerhaave Museum] Dutch National Museum of the History of Science and Medicine.
* [http://www.nobel-winners.com/Physics/kamerlingh_onnes.html About Heike Kamerlingh Onnes] , Nobel-winners.com.
* Eric W. Weisstein , [http://scienceworld.wolfram.com/biography/Kamerlingh-Onnes.html Kamerlingh-Onnes, Heike (1853-1926)] .
* Dirk Reimer, " [http://www.reimer-hamburg.net/htc/pt2.html Historical background] ", A Guide to Superconductivity. 1997.
* Museum Boerhaave [http://www.museumboerhaave.nl/ONDERWIJS/VOORTGEZET/2defase/ANW/pdf/nobelprijswinnaars.pdf Negen Nederlandse Nobelprijswinnaars]
* J. van den Handel, [http://www.inghist.nl/Onderzoek/Projecten/BWN/lemmata/bwn2/kamerlingh "Kamerlingh Onnes, Heike (1853-1926)"] , in Biografisch Woordenboek van Nederland. (In Dutch).
* Biography of [http://www.kb.nl/hkc/nobel/onnes/onnes.html "Heike Kamerlingh Onnes (1853 – 1926)"] at the National library of the Netherlands.
* Freezing Physics: Heike Kamerlingh Onnes and the Quest for Cold , Van Delft Dirk (2007). Edita - The Publishing House Of The Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences. ISBN 9789069845197.

NAME= Kamerlingh Onnes, Heike
DATE OF BIRTH= September 21, 1853
PLACE OF BIRTH= Groningen, Netherlands
DATE OF DEATH= February 21, 1926
PLACE OF DEATH= Leiden, Netherlands

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