Boyle's Law

Boyle's Law


Boyle's law (sometimes referred to as the Boyle-Mariotte law) is one of several gas laws and a special case of the ideal gas law. Boyle's law describes the inversely proportional relationship between the absolute pressure and volume of a gas, if the temperature is kept constant within a closed system. The law was named after chemist and physicist Robert Boyle, who published the original law in 1662. The law itself can be stated as follows: For a fixed amount of an ideal gas kept at a fixed temperature, P [pressure] and V [volume] are inversely proportional (while one increases, the other decreases).

Relation to kinetic theory and ideal gases

Boyle’s law states that at constant temperature for a fixed mass, the absolute pressure and the volume of a gas are inversely proportional. The law can also be stated in a slightly different manner, that the product of absolute pressure and volume is always constant.

Most gases behave like ideal gases at moderate pressures and temperatures. The technology of the 17th century could not produce high pressures or low temperatures. Hence, the law was not likely to have deviations at the time of publication. As improvements in technology permitted higher pressures and lower temperatures, deviations from the ideal gas behavior would become noticeable, and the relationship between pressure and volume can only be accurately described employing real gas theory.[1] The deviation is expressed as the compressibility factor.

Robert Boyle (and Edme Mariotte) derived the law solely on experimental grounds. The law can also be derived theoretically based on the presumed existence of atoms and molecules and assumptions about motion and perfectly elastic collisions (see kinetic theory of gases). These assumptions were met with enormous resistance in the positivist scientific community at the time however, as they were seen as purely theoretical constructs for which there was not the slightest observational evidence.


  1. Levine, Ira. N. (1978), p11 notes that deviations occur with high pressures and temperatures.



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