Jaroslav Heyrovský was born in Prague, and began his studies at the Charles University in Prague. He continued his studies at the University College, London, taking his B.Sc. degree in 1913. During the World War I, Heyrovský worked in a military hospital as a dispensing chemist and radiologist, which enabled him to put theory gained in the field of chemistry into practice.
Parallelly, he continued his studies and took his Ph.D. degree in Prague in 1918 and his D.Sc. in London in 1921. Filling several positions at the Charles University, he was promoted to the University's first Professor of Physical Chemistry. In 1950, Heyrovský was appointed director of the Polarographic Institute of the Czechoslovak Academy of Sciences.
Heyrovský's invention of the polarographic method resulted from his experiments where he determined the electrode potential of aluminium and studied the electrocapillarity of mercury. He used his electrochemical analytical method to analyze both organic and inorganic compounds. Though his creation of the first instrument called polarograph dates from 1925, it only became widely used a decade later.
Heyrovský started to work on the so-called oscillopolarography in 1938. Polarography provided a method for the analysis of small quantities of substances, and it was successfully applied in analyzing a wide range of solutions containing multiple compounds.
The Nobel Prize in Chemistry 1959 was awarded to Heyrovsky for his discovery and development of the polarographic methods of analysis.