Gustav Kirchhoff is a German physicist who contributed to explaining the emission of Black Body Radiation by Electrical Circuits Spectroscopy and hot objects. It was Gustav Kirchhoff who coined the Black Body Radiation in 1862 whose at least two different sets of concepts we know as **“Kirchhoff Laws”**. The Bunsen-Kirchhoff Award was named after him and his colleague Robert Bunsen in spectroscopy. Know in detail about his life in this article.

## Birth and Education

Gustav Kirchhoff was born on 12 March 1824 in Konigsberg Prussia Germany. His full name was Gustav Robert Kirchhoff. His father’s name was Friedrich Kirchhoff, a lawyer, and his mother’s name was Johanna Henriette Wittke. His family was originally Lutherans means Western Christians in the Evangelical Church of Prussia. Gustav Kirchhoff graduated from Albertus University of Königsberg in 1847 where he attended mathematics, physics seminars directed by Carl Gustav Jacob, Franz Ernst Neumann, and Friedrich Julius Richelot.

After completing graduation he moved to Berlin. Only a few years after receiving a professorship in Berlin, Kirchhoff had formulated his Circuit Laws. Kirchhoff’s Circuit Laws are still ubiquitous in modern engineering. Kirchhoff completed his Circuit Laws studies as a seminar exercise, which later became his doctoral dissertation.

## Career

After then, he was called to Heidelberg University in 1854, where he collaborated with Robert Bunsen in spectroscopy work. In 1857, he calculated how an electric signal travels at the speed of light in an unshielded wire.

In 1857, Gustav Kirchhoff married Clara Richelot who had 5 children, after Clara passed away, he married Luise Brömmel. In 1859, Kirchhoff proposed the law of his thermal radiation after his electric signal experiment, and in 1861 gave proof of this.

Together Kirchhoff and Bunsen invented the spectroscope, which Kirchhoff used to identify elements in the Sun. And thus, the use of spectroscopes in 1859 showed that the Sun also contained sodium. Kirchhoff and Bunsen discovered cesium and rubidium elements in 1861, and in Heidelberg, they conducted a mathematics-physical seminar on the model of Neumann’s with mathematician Leo Koenigsberger.

Which he also used to describe his and Bunsen’s works in detail. He contributed greatly to the field of spectroscopy by formulating the three Laws of Spectroscopy, which describe the light and spectral composition emitted by a hot object. These Laws from Kirchhoff support spectrum analysis by David Alter and Anders Jonas.

In 1862 Kirchhoff was awarded the Rufford Medal for his research on the inversion of fixed lines of the solar spectrum and bright light lines of artificial spectra, thus in 1875, Kirchhoff accepted the first honor in Berlin devoted exclusively to theoretical physics. Later Kirchhoff also contributed to optics and provided a solid basis for Huygens’s theory to solve Maxwell’s equations. Gustaf Kirchhoff also became a member of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1884.

## Death

Gustav Robert Kirchhoff died on 17 October 1887. Contribution to the science of Kirchhoff Electric circuit spectroscopy and black body radiation will always be developing modern science.

## Gustav Kirchhoff’s laws

### Gustav Kirchhoff’s circuit laws

The first law of Gustav Kirchhoff’s **circuit laws** is that the algebraic sum of currents in a network of conductors found at a point (or node) is zero. The second rule is that in a closed circuit, the directed sum of voltages in a closed system is zero.

### Kirchhoff’s three laws of spectroscopy

Gustav Kirchhoff’s three laws of spectroscopy – a solid, liquid, or dense gas excited to emit light will radiate in all wavelengths and thus produce a continuous spectrum. A low-density gas excited to emit light will do so at specific wavelengths and it produces an emission spectrum. If light forming a continuous spectrum passes through a quiet, low-density gas, the result will be an absorption spectrum. Gustav Kirchhoff did not know about the energy levels in atoms. The existence of discrete spectral lines was later explained by the Bohr model of the atom, which helped quantum mechanics advance.

### Kirchhoff’s thermochemistry law

Kirchhoff showed in 1858 that, in thermochemistry, the heat dissimilarity of a chemical reaction is given by the difference of the heat capacity between the products and the reactants – The integration of their equation allows the evaluation of the heat of the reaction at one temperature from the reaction at another temperature.

## Sources

- Vavilova, I. B. (2009). Gustav Robert Kirchhoff-the founder of spectral analysis and astrophysics.
*Kinematics and Physics of Celestial Bodies*,*22*(6), 19-36. - Prevost, P., Stewart, B., Kirchhoff, G., & Bunsen, R. (1901).
*The Laws of Radiation and Absorption: Memoirs by Prévost, Stewart, Kirchhoff, and Kirchhoff and Bunsen*(Vol. 15). American Book Company. - Ribeiro, D. (2015). Gustav Kirchhoff.
*Revista de Ciência Elementar*,*3*(2).

This Article was Published On: 9 July, 2019 And Last Modified On: 23 June, 2022

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