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William Henry Perkin, British chemist

William Henry Perkin, British chemist

C022/3372

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CHEMICAL HERITAGE FOUNDATION / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY CHEMICAL HERITAGE FOUNDATION / SCIENCE PHOTO LIBRARY

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William Henry Perkin (1838-1907), British chemist. In 1856, while still a student at the Royal College of Chemistry, he accidentally produced mauveine, the first synthetic dye. He set up a factory to manufacture this and other synthetic dyes based on coal tar products. His research solved some important problems on organic acids and the synthesis of the amino acid glycine. He also developed a general synthesis of aromatic acids (the Perkin reaction) and studied magnetic rotatory power. Elected Fellow of the Royal Society (1866), he was awarded its Royal Medal (1879) and Davy Medal (1889). Photograph from 1906 by the Elliot and Fry company.

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