organic chemistry

August Kekulé and the Carbon Ring Structure

August Kekulé and the Carbon Ring Structure

On July 13, 1896, German organic chemist Friedrich August Kekulé passed away. Being one of the world’s leading chemists of his time, he is best known for devising the ring structure of carbon atoms in organic molecules and became the principal founder of the theory of chemical structure. August Kekulé Background August Kekulé was born on September 7, 1829 in Darmstadt as son of a civil servant. After graduating from secondary school, in 1847…
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Justus von Liebig and the Agricultural Revolution

Justus von Liebig and the Agricultural Revolution

On May 12, 1803, German chemist Justus Freiherr von Liebig was born, who made major contributions to agricultural and biological chemistry. He is probably best known as the “father of the fertilizer industry” for his discovery of nitrogen as an essential plant nutrient. The acquisition of a new truth is like the acquisition of a new sense, which renders a man capable and recognizing a large number of phenomena that are hidden…
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Auguste Laurent and Organic Chemistry

Auguste Laurent and Organic Chemistry

On November 14, 1807, French chemist Auguste Laurent was born. Laurent developed organic chemistry as a distinct science. For a while, he assisted Jean Dumas, and extended his work, understanding organic compounds as derivatives of hydrocarbon molecules. He devised a systematic nomenclature for organic chemistry based on structural grouping of atoms within molecules to determine how the molecules combine in organic reactions. Youth and Education Auguste Laurent was born in the district…
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Emil Erlenmeyer and the Erlenmeyer Flask

Emil Erlenmeyer and the Erlenmeyer Flask

On June 28, 1825, German chemist Emil Erlenmeyer was born. Erlenmeyer is known for contributing to the early development of the theory of structure, formulating the Erlenmeyer rule, and especially for designing the Erlenmeyer flask, a type of chemical flask, which is named after him. Actually, I remember the Erlenmeyer flask from my earliest chemistry lessons back in high school. So, who was the man behind that prominent gadget? Emil Erlenmeyer –…
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Hermann Staudinger and the Macromolecules

Hermann Staudinger and the Macromolecules

On March 23, 1881, German organic chemist Hermann Staudinger was born. Staudinger demonstrated the existence of macromolecules, which he characterized as polymers. For this work he received the 1953 Nobel Prize in Chemistry. He is also known for his discovery of ketenes and of the Staudinger reaction. “The most fundamental difference between compounds of low molecular weight and macromolecular compounds resides in the fact that the latter may exhibit properties that cannot…
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Hans von Euler-Chelpin and the Alcoholic Fermentation of Sugar

Hans von Euler-Chelpin and the Alcoholic Fermentation of Sugar

On February 15, 1873, German-born Swedish biochemist Hans von Euler-Chelpin was born. Hans von Euler-Chelpin shared the 1929 Nobel Prize for Chemistry with Sir Arthur Harden for work on the role of enzymes in the alcoholic fermentation of sugar. Youth and Education Hans von Euler-Chelpin was the son of the later Bavarian Major General Rigas von Euler-Chelpin (1837-1923)and his wife Gabriele Furtner († 1931). He spent most of his childhood with his grandmother in…
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Charles-Adolphe Wurtz and the Atomic Theory

Charles-Adolphe Wurtz and the Atomic Theory

On November 26, 1817, Alsatian French chemist and educator Charles-Adolphe Wurtz was born. Wurtz is best remembered for his decades-long advocacy for the atomic theory and for ideas about the structures of chemical compounds, against the skeptical opinions of chemists such as Marcellin Berthelot and Etienne Henri Sainte-Claire Deville. He is well known by organic chemists for the Wurtz reaction, to form carbon-carbon bonds by reacting alkyl halides with sodium, and for…
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Ira Remsen and the Discovery of Saccharin

Ira Remsen and the Discovery of Saccharin

On February 10, 1846, American chemist Ira Remsen was born. Along with his student Constantin Fahlberg, Remsen discovered the artificial sweetener saccharin working on coal tar derivatives. “Be a physical chemist, an analytical chemist, an organic chemist, if you will; but above all, be a chemist.” – Ira Remsen, as quoted in [8] Ira Remsen – Early Years Ira Remsen was born in New York City. His parents were both descended from…
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Roy J. Plunkett and the Discovery of Teflon

Roy J. Plunkett and the Discovery of Teflon

On June 26, 1910, American chemist Roy J. Plunkett was born. He is best knwon for his 1938 accidentally discovery of polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), better known under the DuPont Co. trademark Teflon. PTFE is used as a non-stick coating for pans and other cookware as well as PTFE has one of the lowest coefficients of friction against any solid. Roy Plunkett – Becoming a Chemist Roy Plunkett was born in New Carlisle, as a…
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