Portrait of Charles Adolphe Wurtz (1817-84), French organic chemist. As a child, Wurtz was given the choice of studying either theology or medicine. Wurtz chose medicine, but turned to chemistry after graduating. His first work was the study of phosphorus oxoacids, but he is best known for developing organic synthesis. He discovered the first amines in a reaction between a base and an isocyanate. In 1855 he showed that reactive alkyl halides and sodium metal formed hydrocarbons. This is known as the Wurtz reaction, and has led to the synthesis of very long-chain hydrocarbons without polymer technology.
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