Anselme Payen

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Anselme Payen
Anselme Payen.jpg
Anselme Payen
Born6 January 1795
Died13 May 1871
Nationality French
Known forDiscovered diastase and cellulose
Scientific career
Fields Chemistry
Institutions École Centrale Paris

Anselme Payen (French:  [pa.jɛ̃] ; 6 January 1795 13 May 1871) was a French chemist known for discovering the enzyme diastase, and the carbohydrate cellulose.

France Republic in Europe with several non-European regions

France, officially the French Republic, is a country whose territory consists of metropolitan France in Western Europe and several overseas regions and territories. The metropolitan area of France extends from the Mediterranean Sea to the English Channel and the North Sea, and from the Rhine to the Atlantic Ocean. It is bordered by Belgium, Luxembourg and Germany to the northeast, Switzerland and Italy to the east, and Andorra and Spain to the south. The overseas territories include French Guiana in South America and several islands in the Atlantic, Pacific and Indian oceans. The country's 18 integral regions span a combined area of 643,801 square kilometres (248,573 sq mi) and a total population of 67.02 million. France is a unitary semi-presidential republic with its capital in Paris, the country's largest city and main cultural and commercial centre. Other major urban areas include Lyon, Marseille, Toulouse, Bordeaux, Lille and Nice.

Chemist Scientist trained in the study of chemistry

A chemist is a scientist trained in the study of chemistry. Chemists study the composition of matter and its properties. Chemists carefully describe the properties they study in terms of quantities, with detail on the level of molecules and their component atoms. Chemists carefully measure substance proportions, reaction rates, and other chemical properties. The word 'chemist' is also used to address Pharmacists in Commonwealth English.

A diastase is any one of a group of enzymes that catalyses the breakdown of starch into maltose. Alpha amylase degrades starch to a mixture of the disaccharide maltose; the trisaccharide maltotriose, which contains three α (1-4)-linked glucose residues; and oligosaccharides, known as dextrins, that contain the α (1-6)-linked glucose branches.



Payen was born in Paris. He began studying science with his father when he was a 13-year-old, and later studied Chemistry at the École Polytechnique under the chemists Louis Nicolas Vauquelin and Michel Eugène Chevreul. [1]

Paris Capital of France

Paris is the capital and most populous city of France, with an area of 105 square kilometres and an official estimated population of 2,140,526 residents as of 1 January 2019. Since the 17th century, Paris has been one of Europe's major centres of finance, diplomacy, commerce, fashion, science, and the arts. The City of Paris is the centre and seat of government of the Île-de-France, or Paris Region, which has an estimated official 2019 population of 12,213,364, or about 18 percent of the population of France. The Paris Region had a GDP of €709 billion in 2017. According to the Economist Intelligence Unit Worldwide Cost of Living Survey in 2018, Paris was the second most expensive city in the world, after Singapore, and ahead of Zürich, Hong Kong, Oslo and Geneva. Another source ranked Paris as most expensive, on a par with Singapore and Hong Kong, in 2018.

Chemistry scientific discipline

Chemistry is the scientific discipline involved with elements and compounds composed of atoms, molecules and ions: their composition, structure, properties, behavior and the changes they undergo during a reaction with other substances.

École Polytechnique French institution of higher education and research in Palaiseau

École Polytechnique is a French public institution of higher education and research in Palaiseau, a suburb located south from Paris. It is one of the leading prestigious French Grandes écoles in engineering, especially known for its polytechnicien engineering program.

At the age of 23, Payen became manager of a borax-refining factory, where he developed a process for synthesizing borax from soda and boric acid. Previously, all borax had been imported from the East Indies exclusively by the Dutch. Payen's new method of synthesizing borax allowed him to sell the mineral at one third the going price, and break the Dutch monopoly.

Borax boron compound, a salt of boric acid

Borax, also known as sodium borate, sodium tetraborate, or disodium tetraborate, is an important boron compound, a mineral, and a salt of boric acid. Powdered borax is white, consisting of soft colorless crystals that dissolve in water. A number of closely related minerals or chemical compounds that differ in their crystal water content are referred to as borax, but the word is usually used to refer to the octahydrate. Commercially sold borax is partially dehydrated.

Sodium Chemical element with atomic number 11

Sodium is a chemical element with the symbol Na (from Latin natrium) and atomic number 11. It is a soft, silvery-white, highly reactive metal. Sodium is an alkali metal, being in group 1 of the periodic table, because it has a single electron in its outer shell, which it readily donates, creating a positively charged ion—the Na+ cation. Its only stable isotope is 23Na. The free metal does not occur in nature, and must be prepared from compounds. Sodium is the sixth most abundant element in the Earth's crust and exists in numerous minerals such as feldspars, sodalite, and rock salt (NaCl). Many salts of sodium are highly water-soluble: sodium ions have been leached by the action of water from the Earth's minerals over eons, and thus sodium and chlorine are the most common dissolved elements by weight in the oceans.

Boric acid chemical compound

Boric acid, also called hydrogen borate, boracic acid, and orthoboric acid is a weak, monobasic Lewis acid of boron. However, some of its behaviour towards some chemical reactions suggest it to be tribasic acid in Bronsted sense as well. Boric acid is often used as an antiseptic, insecticide, flame retardant, neutron absorber, or precursor to other chemical compounds. It has the chemical formula H3BO3 (sometimes written B(OH)3), and exists in the form of colorless crystals or a white powder that dissolves in water. When occurring as a mineral, it is called sassolite.

Payen also developed processes for refining sugar, along with a way to refine starch and alcohol from potatoes, and a method for determination of nitrogen. Payen invented a decolorimeter, which dealt with the analysis, decolorization, bleaching, and crystallization of sugar.

Sugar Generic name for sweet-tasting, soluble carbohydrates

Sugar is the generic name for sweet-tasting, soluble carbohydrates, many of which are used in food. Simple sugars, also called monosaccharides, include glucose, fructose, and galactose. Compound sugars, also called disaccharides or double sugars, are molecules composed of two monosaccharides joined by a glycosidic bond. Common examples are sucrose, lactose, and maltose. In the body, compound sugars are hydrolysed into simple sugars. Table sugar, granulated sugar or regular sugar refers to sucrose, a disaccharide composed of glucose and fructose.

Starch glucose polymer used as energy store in plants

Starch or amylum is a polymeric carbohydrate consisting of numerous glucose units joined by glycosidic bonds. This polysaccharide is produced by most green plants as energy storage. It is the most common carbohydrate in human diets and is contained in large amounts in staple foods like potatoes, wheat, maize (corn), rice, and cassava.

Ethanol is a chemical compound, a simple alcohol with the chemical formula C
. Its formula can be also written as CH
OH or C
OH, and is often abbreviated as EtOH. Ethanol is a volatile, flammable, colorless liquid with a slight characteristic odor. It is a psychoactive substance and is the principal active ingredient found in alcoholic drinks.

Payen discovered the first enzyme, diastase, in 1833. [2] [3] He is also known for isolating and naming the carbohydrate cellulose. [4]

Enzyme Large biological molecule that acts as a catalyst

Enzymes are macromolecular biological catalysts that accelerate chemical reactions. The molecules upon which enzymes may act are called substrates, and the enzyme converts the substrates into different molecules known as products. Almost all metabolic processes in the cell need enzyme catalysis in order to occur at rates fast enough to sustain life. Metabolic pathways depend upon enzymes to catalyze individual steps. The study of enzymes is called enzymology and a new field of pseudoenzyme analysis has recently grown up, recognising that during evolution, some enzymes have lost the ability to carry out biological catalysis, which is often reflected in their amino acid sequences and unusual 'pseudocatalytic' properties.

Cellulose cell wall polymer of plants and green algae

Cellulose is an organic compound with the formula (C
, a polysaccharide consisting of a linear chain of several hundred to many thousands of β(1→4) linked D-glucose units. Cellulose is an important structural component of the primary cell wall of green plants, many forms of algae and the oomycetes. Some species of bacteria secrete it to form biofilms. Cellulose is the most abundant organic polymer on Earth. The cellulose content of cotton fiber is 90%, that of wood is 40–50%, and that of dried hemp is approximately 57%.

In 1835, Payen became a professor at École Centrale Paris. He was later elected professor at the Conservatoire National des Arts et Métiers. He died in Paris on May 13, 1871.

École Centrale Paris French university-level institution (grande école) in the field of engineering

École Centrale Paris was a French postgraduate-level institute of research and higher education in engineering and science. It was also known by its official name École Centrale des Arts et Manufactures.


The American Chemical Society's Cellulose and Renewable Materials Division has established an annual award in his honor, the Anselme Payen Award. [5]

Related Research Articles

Amylase class of enzymes

Amylase is an enzyme that catalyses the hydrolysis of starch into sugars. Amylase is present in the saliva of humans and some other mammals, where it begins the chemical process of digestion. Foods that contain large amounts of starch but little sugar, such as rice and potatoes, may acquire a slightly sweet taste as they are chewed because amylase degrades some of their starch into sugar. The pancreas and salivary gland make amylase to hydrolyse dietary starch into disaccharides and trisaccharides which are converted by other enzymes to glucose to supply the body with energy. Plants and some bacteria also produce amylase. As diastase, amylase was the first enzyme to be discovered and isolated. Specific amylase proteins are designated by different Greek letters. All amylases are glycoside hydrolases and act on α-1,4-glycosidic bonds.

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  1. "Encarta". Archived from the original on 2009-08-29.
  2. A. Payen and J.-F. Persoz (1833) "Mémoire sur la diastase, les principaux produits de ses réactions et leurs applications aux arts industriels" (Memoir on diastase, the principal products of its reactions, and their applications to the industrial arts), Annales de chimie et de physique, 2nd series, vol. 53, pages 73–92.
  3. Fessner, W.D. (2000). Biocatalysis: From Discovery to Application. Berlin: Springer-Verlag. ISBN   3-540-66970-1.
  4. A. Payen (1838) "Mémoire sur la composition du tissu propre des plantes et du ligneux" (Memoir on the composition of the tissue of plants and of woody [material]), Comptes rendus, vol. 7, pages 1052–1056. Payen added appendices to this paper on 24 December 1838 (see: Comptes rendus, vol. 8, page 169 (1839)) and on 4 February 1839 (see: Comptes rendus, vol. 9, page 149 (1839)). A committee of the French Academy of Sciences reviewed Payen's findings in : Jean-Baptiste Dumas (1839) "Rapport sur un mémoire de M. Payen, relatif à la composition de la matière ligneuse" (Report on a memoir of Mr. Payen, regarding the composition of woody matter), Comptes rendus, vol. 8, pages 51–53. In this report, the word "cellulose" is coined and the author points out the similarity between the empirical formula of cellulose and that of dextrine (starch). The above articles are reprinted in: Brongniart and Guillemin, eds., Annales des sciences naturelles... , 2nd series, vol. 11 (Paris, France: Crochard et Cie., 1839), pages 21–31.
  5. "ACS Cellulose and Renewable Materials Division - Anselme Payen Award".