Søren Peder Lauritz Sørensen was born on January 9, 1868, in Havrebjerg, Denmark. Starting in 1886, he studied medicine and chemistry at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark. From 1892 to 1901, he worked as assistant to the inorganic chemist Sophus Mads Jørgensen and received his Ph.D. in 1899.
In 1901, Sørensen succeeded Johan Kjeldahl as leader of the chemistry department of the Carlsberg Laboratory in Copenhagen. The laboratory had been created by the brewery of the same name and focused on biochemistry. Together with his wife Margrethe Høyrup Sørensen, he worked on the influence of ion concentrations on proteins. The hydrogen ion concentration turned out to be particularly important in this context. In 1909, this work led him to develop the concept of the logarithmic pH scale, which he called “hydrogen ion exponent”, to describe the concentration of hydrogen ions in solution.
Sørensen also developed methods for measuring the acidity of solutions, as well as the formol titration of amino acids named after him, and was an expert in fermentation. He retired in 1938 and died in February of 1939 in Copenhagen.
Søren Sørensen is the answer to Guess the Chemist (73).
- S. P. L. Sorensen (1868–),
R. E. Oesper,
J. Chem. Educ. 1938, 15 , 1.
- The Symbol for pH,
William B. Jensen,
J. Chem. Educ. 2004, 81, 21.
- Enzymstudien. II: Mitteilung. Über die Messung und die Bedeutung der Wasserstoffionenkoncentration bei enzymatischen Prozessen (in German),
S. P. L. Sørensen,
Biochem. Z. 1909, 21, 131–304.