Grotthus, Christian Johann Dietrich

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Grotthus, Christian Johann Dietrich


(known from 1805 as Theodor Grotthus). Born Jan. 20, 1785, in Leipzig; died Mar. 14 (26), 1822, in Geddutz (Lithuania). Baltic physicist and chemist.

Grotthus audited lectures in the higher schools of Leipzig and Paris from 1803 to 1804 and between 1806 and 1808. In 1805 he gave the first correct theoretical explanation for the breakdown of water by an electric current. He established the fact that light absorbed by a substance can cause a chemical reaction in that substance and that the oxidation of substances by free oxygen is accelerated under the influence of light. Many investigators have made use of Grotthus’ theories (especially in the fields of electrolysis and chemical affinity) without citing his name.


Abhandlungenüber Elektrizität und Licht. Leipzig, 1906. (Ostwald’s Klassiker der exakten Wissenschaften, no. 152.) In Russian translation: “O razlozhenii posredstvom gal’vanicheskogo elektrichestva vody i rastvorennykh v nei veshchestv.” In Izbrannye trudy po elektrichestvu. Moscow, 1956.


Stradyn’, Ia. P. Teodor Grotgus. Moscow, 1966. (With bibliography.)
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.