Louis Nicolas Vauquelin

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Louis Nicolas Vauquelin
Louis Nicolas Vauquelin 3.jpg
Born(1763-05-16)16 May 1763
Died14 November 1829(1829-11-14) (aged 66)
Known for beryllium
Scientific career
Fields Chemistry
Doctoral advisor Antoine Francois de Fourcroy
Doctoral students Friedrich Stromeyer
Louis Thénard
Influenced Mathieu Orfila

Prof Louis Nicolas Vauquelin FRS(For) HFRSE (16 May 1763 – 14 November 1829) was a French pharmacist and chemist. He was the discoverer of both chromium and beryllium.

Pharmacist healthcare professional who practices in pharmacy

Pharmacists, also known as chemists or druggists, are health professionals who practice in pharmacy, the field of health sciences focusing on safe and effective medication use. Pharmacists undergo university-level education to understand the biochemical mechanisms and actions of drugs, drug uses, therapeutic roles, side effects, potential drug interactions, and monitoring parameters. This is mated to anatomy, physiology, and pathophysiology. Pharmacists interpret and communicate this specialized knowledge to patients, physicians, and other health care providers.

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.

Chromium Chemical element with atomic number 24

Chromium is a chemical element with symbol Cr and atomic number 24. It is the first element in group 6. It is a steely-grey, lustrous, hard and brittle transition metal. Chromium boasts a high usage rate as a metal that is able to be highly polished while resisting tarnishing. Chromium is also the main additive in stainless steel, a popular steel alloy due to its uncommonly high specular reflection. Simple polished chromium reflects almost 70% of the visible spectrum, with almost 90% of infrared light being reflected. The name of the element is derived from the Greek word χρῶμα, chrōma, meaning color, because many chromium compounds are intensely colored.


Early life

Vauquelin was born at Saint-André-d'Hébertot in Normandy, France, the son of Nicolas Vauquelin, an estate manager, and his wife, Catherine Le Charterier. [1]

Saint-André-dHébertot Commune in Normandy, France

Saint-André-d'Hébertot is a commune in the Calvados department in the Normandy region in northwestern France.

Normandy Administrative region of France

Normandy is one of the 18 regions of France, roughly referring to the historical Duchy of Normandy.

His first acquaintance with chemistry was gained as laboratory assistant to an apothecary in Rouen (1777–1779), and after various vicissitudes he obtained an introduction to A. F. Fourcroy, in whose laboratory he was an assistant from 1783 to 1791.

Rouen Prefecture and commune in Normandy, France

Rouen is a city on the River Seine in the north of France. It is the capital of the region of Normandy. Formerly one of the largest and most prosperous cities of medieval Europe, Rouen was the seat of the Exchequer of Normandy during the Middle Ages. It was one of the capitals of the Anglo-Norman dynasties, which ruled both England and large parts of modern France from the 11th to the 15th centuries.

Antoine François, comte de Fourcroy French chemist

Antoine François, comte de Fourcroy was a French chemist and a contemporary of Antoine Lavoisier. Fourcroy collaborated with Lavoisier, Guyton de Morveau, and Claude Berthollet on the Méthode de nomenclature chimique, a work that helped standardize chemical nomenclature.

Moving to Paris, he became a laboratory assistant at the Jardin du Roi and was befriended by a professor of chemistry. In 1791 he was made a member of the Academy of Sciences and from that time he helped to edit the journal Annales de Chimie (Chemical annals), although he left the country for a while during the height of the French Revolution. In 1798 Vauquelin discovered beryllium oxide by extracting it from an emerald (a beryl variety); Klaproth isolated the element from the oxide. [2]

French Revolution social and political revolution in France and its colonies occurring from 1789 to 1798

The French Revolution was a period of far-reaching social and political upheaval in France and its colonies beginning in 1789. The Revolution overthrew the monarchy, established a republic, catalyzed violent periods of political turmoil, and finally culminated in a dictatorship under Napoleon who brought many of its principles to areas he conquered in Western Europe and beyond. Inspired by liberal and radical ideas, the Revolution profoundly altered the course of modern history, triggering the global decline of absolute monarchies while replacing them with republics and liberal democracies. Through the Revolutionary Wars, it unleashed a wave of global conflicts that extended from the Caribbean to the Middle East. Historians widely regard the Revolution as one of the most important events in human history.

Beryllium Chemical element with atomic number 4

Beryllium is a chemical element with symbol Be and atomic number 4. It is a relatively rare element in the universe, usually occurring as a product of the spallation of larger atomic nuclei that have collided with cosmic rays. Within the cores of stars beryllium is depleted as it is fused and creates larger elements. It is a divalent element which occurs naturally only in combination with other elements in minerals. Notable gemstones which contain beryllium include beryl and chrysoberyl. As a free element it is a steel-gray, strong, lightweight and brittle alkaline earth metal.

Emerald green gemstone, a beryl variety

Emerald is a gemstone and a variety of the mineral beryl (Be3Al2(SiO3)6) colored green by trace amounts of chromium and sometimes vanadium. Beryl has a hardness of 7.5–8 on the Mohs scale. Most emeralds are highly included, so their toughness (resistance to breakage) is classified as generally poor. Emerald is a cyclosilicate.

Contributions to chemistry

At first his work appeared as that of his master and patron, then in their joint names; in 1790 he began to publish on his own, and between that year and 1833 his name is associated with 376 papers. Most of these were simple records of patient and laborious analytical operations, and it is perhaps surprising that among all the substances he analysed he only detected two new elements, beryllium in 1798 in beryl and chromium in 1797 in a red lead ore from Siberia. He also managed to get liquid ammonia at atmospheric pressure. Later with Fourcroy, he identified a metal in a platinum residue they called ‘ptène’, This name ‘ptene’ or ‘ptène’ was reported as an early synonym for osmium. [3]

Siberia Geographical region in Russia

Siberia is an extensive geographical region spanning much of Eurasia and North Asia. Siberia has historically been a part of modern Russia since the 17th century.

Ammonia Chemical compound of nitrogen and hydrogen

Ammonia is a compound of nitrogen and hydrogen with the formula NH3. The simplest pnictogen hydride, ammonia is a colourless gas with a characteristic pungent smell. It is a common nitrogenous waste, particularly among aquatic organisms, and it contributes significantly to the nutritional needs of terrestrial organisms by serving as a precursor to food and fertilizers. Ammonia, either directly or indirectly, is also a building block for the synthesis of many pharmaceutical products and is used in many commercial cleaning products. It is mainly collected by downward displacement of both air and water. Ammonia is named for the Ammonians, worshipers of the Egyptian god Amun, who used ammonium chloride in their rituals.

Osmium Chemical element with atomic number 76

Osmium is a chemical element with symbol Os and atomic number 76. It is a hard, brittle, bluish-white transition metal in the platinum group that is found as a trace element in alloys, mostly in platinum ores. Osmium is the densest naturally occurring element, with an experimentally measured density of 22.59 g/cm3. Manufacturers use its alloys with platinum, iridium, and other platinum-group metals to make fountain pen nib tipping, electrical contacts, and in other applications that require extreme durability and hardness. The element's abundance in the Earth's crust is among the rarest.

Either together or successively he held the offices of inspector of mines, professor at the School of Mines and at the Polytechnic School, assayer of gold and silver articles, professor of chemistry in the College de France and at the Jardin des Plantes, member of the Council of Industry and Commerce, commissioner on the pharmacy laws, and finally professor of chemistry to the Medical Faculty, to which he succeeded on Fourcroy's death in 1809. His lectures, which were supplemented with practical laboratory teaching, were attended by many chemists who subsequently attained distinction.

A lesser known contribution and finding of his included the study of hens fed a known amount of mineral. "Having calculated all the lime in oats fed to a hen, found still more in the shells of its eggs. Therefore, there is a creation of matter. In that way, no one knows."

Final achievements, days and legacy

From 1809 he was professor at the University of Paris. In 1816, he was elected a foreign member of the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences. He was elected to the Chamber of Deputies in 1828. In 1806, working with asparagus, he and Pierre Jean Robiquet (future discoverer of the famous red dye alizarin, then a young chemist and his assistant) isolated the amino acid asparagine, the first one to be discovered. He also discovered pectin and malic acid in apples, and isolated camphoric acid and quinic acid.

His death occurred while he was on a visit to his birthplace.

Among his best known works is "Manuel de l'essayeur" (Manual of the assayer).

The plant genus Vauquelinia is named in his honor, as is the Vauquelin, an egg white foam associated with molecular gastronomy, and the mineral vauquelinite, discovered at the same mine as the crocoite from which Vauquelin isolated chromium.

Related Research Articles

Ruthenium Chemical element with atomic number 44

Ruthenium is a chemical element with symbol Ru and atomic number 44. It is a rare transition metal belonging to the platinum group of the periodic table. Like the other metals of the platinum group, ruthenium is inert to most other chemicals. Russian-born scientist of Baltic-German ancestry Karl Ernst Claus discovered the element in 1844 at Kazan State University and named it after the Latin name of his homeland, Ruthenia. Ruthenium is usually found as a minor component of platinum ores; the annual production has risen from about 19 tonnes in 2009 to some 35.5 tonnes in 2017. Most ruthenium produced is used in wear-resistant electrical contacts and thick-film resistors. A minor application for ruthenium is in platinum alloys and as a chemistry catalyst. A new application of ruthenium is as the capping layer for extreme ultraviolet photomasks. Ruthenium is generally found in ores with the other platinum group metals in the Ural Mountains and in North and South America. Small but commercially important quantities are also found in pentlandite extracted from Sudbury, Ontario and in pyroxenite deposits in South Africa.

Alkaline earth metal group of chemical elements

The alkaline earth metals are six chemical elements in group 2 of the periodic table. They are beryllium (Be), magnesium (Mg), calcium (Ca), strontium (Sr), barium (Ba), and radium (Ra). The elements have very similar properties: they are all shiny, silvery-white, somewhat reactive metals at standard temperature and pressure.

Group 6 element group of chemical elements

Group 6, numbered by IUPAC style, is a group of elements in the periodic table. Its members are chromium (Cr), molybdenum (Mo), tungsten (W), and seaborgium (Sg). These are all transition metals and chromium, molybdenum and tungsten are refractory metals. The period 8 elements of group 6 are likely to be either unpenthexium (Uph) or unpentoctium (Upo). This may not be possible; drip instability may imply that the periodic table ends around unbihexium. Neither unpenthexium nor unpentoctium have been synthesized, and it is unlikely that this will happen in the near future.

Herbert C. Brown chemist

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Per Teodor Cleve Swedish chemist who discovered holmium and thulium

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The year 1763 in science and technology involved some significant events.

Louis Jacques Thénard French chemist

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Hippolyte-Victor Collet-Descotils French chemist

Hippolyte-Victor Collet-Descotils was a French chemist. He studied in the École des Mines de Paris, and was a student and friend of Louis Nicolas Vauquelin.

André Laugier French chemist

André Laugier was a French chemist, pharmacist and mineralogist. He was a cousin to famed chemist Antoine François Fourcroy and the father of astronomer Paul Auguste Ernest Laugier (1812–1872).

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Wikisource-logo.svg This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain : Chisholm, Hugh, ed. (1911). "Vauquelin, Louis Nicolas"  . Encyclopædia Britannica (11th ed.). Cambridge University Press.

  1. Biographical Index of Former Fellows of the Royal Society of Edinburgh 1783–2002 (PDF). The Royal Society of Edinburgh. July 2006. ISBN   0 902 198 84 X.
  2. Weeks, Mary Elvira; Leichester, Henry M. (1968). Discovery of the Elements. Easton, PA: Journal of Chemical Education. LCCCN 68-15217.
  3. Haubrichs, Rolf; Zaffalon, Pierre-Leonard (2017). "Osmium vs. 'Ptène': The Naming of the Densest Metal". Johnson Matthey Technology Review. 61. doi:10.1595/205651317x695631.