British chemist Sir William Perkin

British chemist Sir William Perkin

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Credit: SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

Caption: Sir William Henry Perkin (1838-1907), the English chemist and founder of the organic chemical industry. In 1856, while still a student at the Royal College of Chemistry, he accidentally produced mauveine, the first synthetic dyestuff. Helped by his father, he set up a factory to manufacture the new dye and, later, other synthetic dyes based on coal tar products. Meanwhile he continued his academic research, solving some important problems on organic acids and synthesizing the amino acid glycine. When he was 36 he gave up dyemaking to concentrate on his research. He developed a general synthesis of aromatic acids (the Perkin reaction) and studied magnetic rotatory power.

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Keywords: chemist, discoverer, dye, first, history, mauve, mauveine, perkin, portraits, sir william henry, surname p, synthetic dye

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