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Friedrich Wöhler

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Friedrich Wöhler (1800-1882) A German chemist and that attempted to prepare ammonium cyanate from silver cyanide and ammonium chloride, and accidentally synthesized urea in 1828. This was the first organic synthesis, and shattered the vitalism theory. Wöhler decided he wanted to learn more and discovered that urea and ammonium cyanate had the same chemical formula, but very different chemical properties. <ref> Eric W. Weisstein, 1996-2007, http://scienceworld.wolfram.com/biography/Woehler.html</ref> He is also known for his important studies of the elements boron, silicon, beryllium, and titanium.<ref>Martin D. Saltzman, http://www.chemistryexplained.com/Va-Z/W-hler-Friedrich.html</ref>


Friedrich Wöhler was born on July 31, 1800, at Eschersheim, near Frankfurt-am-Main, Hesse. Young Wöhler attended public schools in Frankfurt and passed exams that qualified him for admission to a university in 1820. During his early school years he had an interest in practical chemistry and mineralogy. He chose to study medicine at Heidelberg University and obtained an M.D. degree from that institution in 1823. While attending Heidelberg, Whöler decided to choose chemistry over medicine after listening to the lectures of Leopold Gmelin. Wöhler spent a year at the laboratory of Jöns Jakob Berzelius in Stockholm, he develeped a lifelong friendship with Berzelius and in Berzelius's influential Textbook of Chemistry and Friedrich acted at the German translator for it. In 1832 he was offered the professorship of chemistry of the medical faculty at the University of Göttingen, where he stayed until his death (on September 23, 1882). <ref>Martin D. Saltzman, http://www.chemistryexplained.com/Va-Z/W-hler-Friedrich.html</ref>


One of Wöhler's achievement was his isolation of the element aluminum in 1827. Attempts by chemists Humphry Davy and Berzelius to prepare aluminum from alumina (Al2O3) had failed. Wöhler employed a chemical approach that included the reduction of anhydrous aluminum chloride by potassium amalgam, followed by treatment with water. It produced a gray powder that Wöhler was able to identify as the element aluminum.<ref>Martin D. Saltzman, http://www.chemistryexplained.com/Va-Z/W-hler-Friedrich.html</ref>


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