20 important discoveries in chemistry

  • 450


    Empedocles asserts that all things are composed of four primal elements: earth, air, fire, and water, whereby two active and opposing forces, love and hate, or affinity and antipathy, act upon these elements, combining and separating them into infinitely varied forms.
  • Jan 2, 1167

    Magister Salernus

    Magister Salernus of the School of Salerno makes the first references to the distillation of wine
  • Nov 1, 1267

    Roger Bacon

    Roger Bacon publishes Opus Maius, which among other things, proposes an early form of the scientific method, and contains results of his experiments with gunpowder
  • Georg Brandt

    Swedish chemist Georg Brandt analyzes a dark blue pigment found in copper ore. Brandt demonstrated that the pigment contained a new element, later named cobalt
  • Jacques Charles

    Jacques Charles proposes Charles's law, a corollary of Boyle's law, describes relationship between temperature and volume of a gas
  • Alessandro Volta

    Alessandro Volta devises the first chemical battery, thereby founding the discipline of electrochemistry
  • Joseph Louis Gay-Lussac

    Joseph Louis Gay-Lussac collects and discovers several chemical and physical properties of air and of other gases, including experimental proofs of Boyle's and Charles's laws, and of relationships between density and composition of gases
  • Lord Kelvin

    Lord Kelvin establishes concept of absolute zero, the temperature at which all molecular motion ceases
  • Gustav Kirchhoff and Robert Bunsen

    Gustav Kirchhoff and Robert Bunsen lay the foundations of spectroscopy as a means of chemical analysis, which lead them to the discovery of caesium and rubidium. Other workers soon used the same technique to discover indium, thallium, and helium
  • Stanislao Cannizzaro

    Stanislao Cannizzaro, resurrecting Avogadro's ideas regarding diatomic molecules, compiles a table of atomic weights and presents it at the 1860 Karlsruhe Congress, ending decades of conflicting atomic weights and molecular formulas, and leading to Mendeleev's discovery of the periodic law
  • John Newlands

    John Newlands proposes the law of octaves, a precursor to the periodic law
  • Adolf von Baeyer

    Adolf von Baeyer begins work on indigo dye, a milestone in modern industrial organic chemistry which revolutionizes the dye industry
  • Dmitri Mendeleev

    Dmitri Mendeleev publishes the first modern periodic table, with the 66 known elements organized by atomic weights. The strength of his table was its ability to accurately predict the properties of as-yet unknown elements
  • Hermann Emil Fischer

    Hermann Emil Fischer proposes structure of purine, a key structure in many biomolecules, which he later synthesized in 1898. Also begins work on the chemistry of glucose and related sugars
  • J. J. Thomson

    J. J. Thomson discovers the electron using the cathode ray tube
  • Albert Einstein

    Albert Einstein explains Brownian motion in a way that definitively proves atomic theory
  • Niels Bohr

    introduces concepts of quantum mechanics to atomic structure by proposing what is now known as the Bohr model of the atom, where electrons exist only in strictly defined orbitals
  • Gilbert N. Lewis

    Gilbert N. Lewis develops the electron pair theory of acid/base reactions
  • Fritz London and Walter Heitler

    Fritz London and Walter Heitler apply quantum mechanics to explain covalent bonding in the hydrogen molecule,[108] which marked the birth of quantum chemistry
  • James D. Watson and Francis Crick

    James D. Watson and Francis Crick propose the structure of DNA, opening the door to the field of molecular biology