Disciplinary Domain of Science and Technology

The (Theodor) Svedberg

The (Theodor) Svedberg (1884–1971) was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1926for his work on disperse systems”.

The Svedberg

The Svedberg was Professor of Physical Chemistry 1912–1949 at Uppsala University and later director of the Gustaf Werner Institute for Nuclear Chemistry at the University, since 1986 renamed The Svedberg laboratory.

The Svedberg was primarily interested in colloids (particles with a size of between 1 and 100 nanometres, for example proteins) and macro-molecular solutions. In his doctoral thesis from 1908 Svedberg described a new method for producing colloidal particles. He continued to study the physical properties of colloids, such as diffusion, light absorption and sedimentation.

For his studies of sedimentation, Svedberg constructed his ultracentrifuge, with which he could study large molecules in solution, such as proteins and carbohydrates. He could also use it to prove that proteins were a kind of macro molecules, which gave biochemistry a completely new starting point and paved the way for molecular biology. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1926 for his discoveries regarding disperse systems, i.e. solutions of molecules of very different sizes, such as butter or cream.

Today: Biochemistry has a long history at Uppsala University, with roots in the research that was founded by Nobel Prize Laureates The Svedberg and Arne Tiselius. At the departments of chemistry internationally prominent biochemical research is still being conducted, but in new areas. It is characterised by both high scientific value and by many different potential applications, for instance in drug development and targeted development of proteins.



Read more portraits of our researchers in which they talk about their research and where you also get a sense of the person behind the research.