In 1801 while working for the British Museum in London, Hatchett analyzed a piece of columbite in the museum's collection. Columbite turned out to be a very complex mineral, and Hachett discovered that it contained a "new earth" which implied the existence of a new element. Hatchett called this new element columbium (Cb) in honour of Christopher Columbus, the discoverer of America. On 26 November of that year he announced his discovery before the Royal Society. The element was later rediscovered and renamed niobium (its current name).
Later in life, Hatchett quit his job as a chemist to work full-time in his family's coach fabrication business.
Since 1979, the Institute of Materials, Minerals and Mining ("IOM3") (London) has given the Charles Hatchett Award yearly to a noted metallurgist. The award is given to the "author of the best paper on the science and technology of niobium and its alloys."
^GRO Register of Deaths: MAR 1847 III 40 CHELSEA - Charles Hatchett, age unknown
^William P. Griffith and Peter J. T. Morris (2003). "Charles Hatchett FRS (1765-1847), Chemist and Discoverer of Niobium". Notes and Records of the Royal Society of London57 (3): 299. doi:10.1098/rsnr.2003.0216. JSTOR3557720.
^Jameson, Robert (1805). "System of Mineralogy, Vol. II.". Edinburgh: Bell and Bradfute (et al.). p. 582. Retrieved 15 February 2015. ... Mr Hatchett found it to contain a metal, which, from its properties, could not be referred to any hitherto known; hence he was of opinion that it should be considered as a new genus, to which he gave the name Columbium, in honour of the discoverer of America. ...'