Hans Meerwein

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Hans Meerwein
Born (1879-05-20)May 20, 1879
Hamburg, German Empire
Died October 24, 1965(1965-10-24) (aged 86)
Marburg, West Germany
Residence Germany
Nationality German
Fields Organic chemistry
Institutions University of Bonn,
University of Königsberg,
University of Marburg
Alma mater University of Bonn
Doctoral students Georg Wittig,
Siegfried Hünig,
Karl Dimroth
Known for Meerwein's salt

Hans Meerwein (May 20, 1879, Hamburg, Germany – October 24, 1965, Marburg, Germany) was a German chemist.[1]

His name is present in the names of several reactions and reagents, for example the Meerwein-Ponndorf-Verley reduction, the Wagner-Meerwein rearrangement.[2] and the Meerwein's salt.

Life and work[edit]

Isobornyl chloride giving a carbocation. Meerwein's representation is top, the modern view on the bottom

After his training as chemotechnician from 1898 till 1900 at the Fresenius chemistry school he started studying chemistry at the University of Bonn. After finishing his PhD with Richard Anschütz he did some research at the University of Berlin before coming back to Bonn where he became professor in 1914. From 1922 till 1928 he was professor for organic chemistry at the University of Königsberg. The last change in his academic career was to the University of Marburg. The war devastated the Institute and Meerwein was planning the rebuilding which was finished in 1953, the year he retired from lecturing. He conducted experimental work with the help of two postdocs until his death in 1965.

His greatest impact upon organic chemistry was to propose the carbocation 2 as a reactive intermediate, originally as a rationalization of the racemization of isobornyl chloride 1 catalysed by a Lewis acid such as SnCl4. His proposed mechanism for racemization involved s subsequent a 2,6 hydride transfer in the cation; the alternative [1,2] methyl migration, now actually known as a Wagner-Meerwein shift, was in fact suggested for the first time by Houben and Pfankuch.[3]

External links[edit]


  1. ^ Karl Dimroth (1967). "Hans Meerwein. 1879-1965". Chemische Berichte 100 (1): LV–XCIV. doi:10.1002/cber.19671000143. 
  2. ^ Hans Meerwein (1914). "Über den Reaktionsmechanismus der Umwandlung von Borneol in Camphen; [Dritte Mitteilung über Pinakolinumlagerungen.]". Justus Liebig's Annalen der Chemie 405 (2): 129–175. doi:10.1002/jlac.19144050202. 
  3. ^ Annalen, 1931, 489, 193; 1933, 501, 219-246, doi:10.1002/jlac.19335010113